Steuben County declines issuing State of Emergency migrant declaration at present time

Steuben County is declining to follow Allegany and multiple other Upstate New York counties at this time in issuing a State of Emergency related to possible migrant movement into the area from New York City.

In a statement today, county officials said it is proactively addressing the situation in other ways “for some very important reasons,” including legality.

They said that:

“To date, Steuben County has not issued a declaration of state of emergency for some very important reasons.

“First, county officials are engaging with state agencies, such as the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) and the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), and others stakeholders on nearly a daily basis.

“Under NYS OTDA regulations, for a county or the City of New York to place individuals in temporary housing outside of their jurisdiction, they must notify the receiving county prior. Steuben County has received no indication that asylum seekers/migrants have been or will be placed in the county in the near future.

“Further, NYS law requires specific thresholds for an emergency to be declared, including the presence of ‘an immediate danger’.

“As Steuben County has not received any indication that there is a planned influx of asylum seekers/migrants, a state of emergency is improper at this time.

“In addition, local states of emergency and emergency orders have a maximum time limit of 30 days. If Steuben were to declare an emergency too early, it could lose the ability to implement provisions for response if circumstances required this at a later time.

“This issue is a top priority for Steuben County officials, and the situation monitored continuously.

“The county lacks the infrastructure to support a large influx of a temporary homeless population.

“Should a situation arise where such an influx was planned, the county will take the necessary steps, including issuance of a state of emergency,” they said.

Allegany Hope Community News had asked about some of the same issues last Friday when Allegany County Board of Legislators Chairman W. Brooke Harris of Alfred had issued a State of Emergency related to the same subject, asking if it, in essence, was a paper exercise since there were no reports that migrants from New York City were being sent to the county.

Although the chairman has not responded to our query, he did say at a Legislators’ District meeting in Andover tonight that Gov. Kathy Hochul is saying she only will be sending migrants to welcoming communities. Concern was expressed by meeting attendees, however, that this could change.

Legislator Steve Havey of Wellsville said he personally wouldn’t mind migrants coming into the area if there was time to plan and funds were made available in advance to prepare. Otherwise, he expressed concern that adequate resources would not be available to assist them.