Allegany County Board of Legislators Chairman W. Brooke Harris this afternoon declared a countywide State of Emergency as it relates to immigration and asylum seekers, but it only may be a paper exercise at this point.
The declaration took effect at 1PM today, although it apparently wasn’t disseminated to the public until more than two hours later through a media press release.
The action, according to the proclamation, is “due to New York City’s actions to rapidly divert the number of migrants to other Counties in New York State to unsustainable levels.”
He declared that Allegany County “does not have the capacity to receive or sustain any number of migrants and/or asylum seekers.”
Some other counties in the state also have proclaimed states of emergency after New York City said it was making plans to house some of its overflow of migrants being bused to New York from southern border states to some Upstate counties due to lack of available lodging in the city.
In a press release accompanying the State of Emergency, Harris said he is “sympathetic to the challenges facing asylum seekers, and wish for nothing more than their successful integration into our country.
“Unfortunately, Allegany County simply does not have the resources available to properly provide for the needs of even a small influx of migrants.
“In addition to our overburdened and underfunded County departments, our contracted agencies and local not-for-profit providers are already stretched beyond their capabilities,” he said. “Any sudden additional demands could compromise a very fragile service delivery system.”
An accompanying release from Sheriff Scott Cicirello says he “fully support(s)” the actions taken by county officials to “directly address this crisis.”
He noted that “there are strong opinions on this issue” and encouraged residents to remain “peaceful and respectful,” saying there will be continued advocacy for resolution of the issue and county residents will be kept informed.
Actual impact of Declaration
Allegany Hope Community News queried Harris in regard to the actual impact of the declaration since it says that local orders may follow but “(a)t this time, we are not aware of any attempt by either New York City or New York State to facilitate the relocation of migrants to Allegany County.”
Section 24 of the State Executive Law, under which the Declaration was made, only provides for such county action “in the event of a disaster, rioting, catastrophe, or similar public emergency within the territorial limits of any county, city, town or village, or in the event of reasonable apprehension of immediate danger thereof, and upon a finding by the chief executive thereof that the public safety is imperiled thereby ….”
The chairman also was asked about the county’s position in regard to migrants and possible asylum seekers who already may be in the county, since the Department of Homeland Security definition of migrant is any “person who leaves his/her country of origin to seek temporary or permanent residence in another country,” which could include students and others at county colleges and universities, essential employees at some businesses, and their families.
In addition, the Alfred legislator also was queried in regard to timing and public notice as it relates to any future legal orders, for which there can be penalties, in that the State of Emergency itself had gone into effect before it was announced, with the public not having had an opportunity to hear about it.
No response has been received to our email and text as of this writing.
The full State of Emergency and county press release are available at https://bit.ly/43eOeFR.