Emergency orders blocking migrant arrivals in Orange, Rockland scrutinized in federal court
Executive orders blocking migrant arrivals in Rockland and Orange counties were scrutinized in a White Plains federal courtroom on Thursday.
The hearing comes after the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the counties for the orders that prevent the arrival of migrants relocated from New York City.
Judge Nelson Roman postponed a decision granting an extension on the case.
NYCLU attorneys argued in court that the counties' orders violate migrants' constitutional and civil rights by preventing them from freely traveling and obtaining a place to stay based on their nationality.
"Usually you have to look really hard to find some intent to discriminate, but here it's right on the face of it - no migrants or asylum seekers,” said Amy Belsher, NYCLU director of immigrants’ rights litigation.
Roman stated in court that the orders “smelled of Jim Crow laws.”
"He was referring I think Jim Crow era as a way of saying that’s the last time we've seen something this blatant,” said Belsher.
As News 12 has reported, Orange County has seen 180 asylum seekers bused from New York City now living in county hotels.
Rockland was slated to receive migrants, but currently has not as of yet.
"It's not about where they're from. It's not about whatever group that they might belong to,” said Thomas Humbach, Rockland County attorney. “It's a fact that these folks have a lack of resources. They cannot work."
Humbach and Vincent Crowe, the attorney representing Orange County, argued in court their respective county orders are not discriminatory. They instead focused their arguments on New York City's program that buses migrants to the Hudson Valley.
"This is something that has to be handled by a dialog between the county executive and the mayor, and the lack of coordination, the lack of planning,” said Crowe. “It's atrocious what, what the city of New York is attempting to do throughout the metropolitan area."
In the end, Roman postponed a decision and granted an extension.
All parties have until 2 p.m. Monday to submit briefs to Roman, who expressed concern over whether a ruling on this case could impact a state Supreme Court case being heard in Rockland County regarding housing migrants in hotels.