New York City Mayor Eric Adams is suing 30 New York counties over local executive orders intended to stop the city from housing migrants in their towns.
Adams, a Democrat, announced a lawsuit Wednesday that calls actions by these counties an “unlawful attempt” to prevent New York City from responding to a statewide emergency and humanitarian crisis. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the local orders null and void.
“This lawsuit aims to put an end to this xenophobic bigotry and ensure our state acts as one as we work together to manage this humanitarian crisis fairly and humanely, as we have done from the beginning and as we will continue to do,” Adams said in a statement.
New York City has been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of migrants pouring into the five boroughs in the past year. The mayor’s office said more than 74,000 asylum-seekers have sought shelter in the city to date — most entering the U.S. from the southern border — with more than 47,200 currently being housed by the City of New York. Hundreds of migrants are arriving daily, with as many as 900 individuals coming to the city in some weeks in May.
“Since this crisis began, New York City has — virtually on its own — stepped up to provide shelter, food, clothing, and other services to asylum-seekers arriving in our city. We are doing our part and will continue to do our part, but we need every locality across the state to do their part as well,” Adams said.
However, his policy puts the city in conflict with several New York counties that do not want to house the migrants. Those counties have said giving shelter to migrants would threaten public safety, citing reports of rampant drug use and lawless behavior at the hotels where New York City has placed asylum-seekers. Several counties and a town have obtained restraining orders against the city preventing migrants from being housed in their jurisdictions.
Judge Nelson Roman of the Southern District of New York blocked the enactment of orders by Orange County and Rockland County that barred local hotels and motels from making rooms available to migrants from New York City.
Hundreds of asylum-seekers line up outside the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building on June 6, 2023, in New York City. New York City has provided sanctuary to over 46,000 asylum-seekers since 2013, when the city passed a law prohibiting city agencies from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement agencies unless there is a warrant for the person’s arrest. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
The judge found convincing civil rights groups’ arguments that migrants were being discriminated against on the basis of national origin, alienage and race, which violates the equal protection clause under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Those flights sparked a furious response from California officials, who accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of kidnapping and exploiting the migrants involved. Florida officials pushed back, publishing video they say shows that the flights were voluntary.
DeSantis on Wednesday said it was right that states and cities with “sanctuary” policies bear the brunt of the migrant crisis.
“If there’s a policy to have an open border, then I think these sanctuary jurisdictions should be the ones that have to bear that,” he said. “We’re not a sanctuary in Florida.”