Orange County Challenges NYC Over Illegal Immigrant Hotel Placement

Orange County has initiated legal proceedings against New York City following an event where NYC’s Mayor Eric Adams transported numerous undocumented immigrants to a hotel in Newburgh. The lawsuit, submitted on May 12, states that Adams lacks the legal capacity to operate a temporary refuge in the county. It seeks immediate reversal of the transfers and a halt to such actions in the future.

In a press release, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus expressed his concerns: “New York City, a self-identified sanctuary city, should address this problem that Orange County is now grappling with. This situation has resulted from Mayor Adams and the federal government’s ineffective immigration policies.”

According to the lawsuit, over 60 adult male undocumented immigrants were transported by bus from New York City to the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh on May 11 without prior notification to county officials. This group represents the first batch of immigrants transported to upstate counties under a new initiative by the Adams administration.

Under this program, New York City has agreed to cover costs for up to four months of hotel accommodation, including daily meals, laundry services, and remote medical consultations. However, Orange County officials argue that this program essentially sets up a homeless shelter system outside city limits, which exceeds Adams’ authority and is illegal.

The lawsuit alleges that the city has provided accommodations for 620 if not more, undocumented immigrants at two Newburgh hotels – Crossroads and Ramada by Wyndham. Both hotels have allegedly ceased regular operations and have been converted into dedicated shelter centers for immigrants arriving from the city.

The county fears that if these individuals stay in the area after the city ceases assistance, they could more than double its homeless population and strain local resources. As of April, the county’s homeless population stood at 437.

The county has also filed a separate lawsuit against the two hotels, claiming they violated a State of Emergency order issued by County Executive Neuhaus. Neuhaus declared a state of emergency on May 8, barring the county’s hotels, motels, and short-term rentals from accommodating undocumented immigrants arranged by the New York City government.

The Town of Newburgh has also taken legal action against the two hotels, alleging they violated the town code by transforming into long-term residential facilities without due process.

Mayor Eric Adams had previously announced a plan to relocate single, adult men illegally crossing the border to hotels in upstate counties. This move, part of New York City’s new strategy to relocate undocumented immigrants due to a lack of funds and space, aims to secure them long-term housing and employment opportunities elsewhere in New York State as they navigate their legal proceedings.

The city has spent $650 million on temporary assistance for undocumented immigrants since last spring, when it saw an influx of over 60,000 such individuals. With the expiration of Title 42 – a border policy established during COVID-19 – the city anticipates a further surge in undocumented immigrants.

The announcement of the plan was followed by an aggressive marketing campaign within immigrant shelters, enticing undocumented immigrants to consider moving upstate with promises of various benefits, according to Neuhaus.

These relocation efforts form part of New York City’s strategic response to a growing crisis, exacerbated by the city’s dwindling resources and increasing costs associated with supporting undocumented immigrants. A city blueprint report published in March highlights that the initiative’s overarching goal is to help these individuals establish themselves in other regions of New York State, ensuring long-term housing and employment prospects while they progress through their legal procedures.

However, these actions have sparked significant controversy and legal backlash. For instance, New York City had intended to transport undocumented immigrants to a hotel in Rockland County. Still, local officials preemptively filed a lawsuit and secured a court order to block the move.

The pilot relocation program initially identified two sites: the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, Orange County, and the Armoni Inn and Suites in Orangeburg, Rockland County. The plan’s unveiling has led to a chain of lawsuits from both Orange and Rockland Counties and the Town of Newburgh, which have collectively argued against the legality and implications of the initiative.

Moreover, the situation is set to become more complex, considering the expiration of Title 42. This border policy was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to expedite the expulsion of undocumented immigrants to protect public health. Its discontinuation will likely trigger an even more significant influx of undocumented immigrants.

In conclusion, the city’s attempts to grapple with the mounting pressure and costs associated with its large population of undocumented immigrants have led to a complex situation. The city’s actions, legal challenges, and the looming expiration of Title 42 suggest that a comprehensive solution addressing the welfare of these individuals and the concerns of the counties involved is urgently needed.