Putnam Legislature approves measures pushing back at NYC's migrant relocation plan

Lawmakers made an amendment to a county law that now bars any outside municipality, including New York City, from housing its homeless population, including migrants and asylum seekers in Putnam without first entering a shared services agreement with the county.

Jonathan Gordon

Jul 5, 2023, 9:42 PM

Updated 290 days ago

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In a pair of 7-1 votes, the Putnam County Legislature approved two measures aimed to combat New York City's migrant relocation plan.
Lawmakers made an amendment to a county law that now bars any outside municipality, including New York City, from housing its homeless population, including migrants and asylum seekers in Putnam without first entering a shared services agreement with the county.
County officials said the measure will not prevent existing or future shelters or service providers from operating within the county.
The Legislature also approved a resolution making it a "rule of law" county, which is essentially a designation in opposition to a sanctuary municipality resolution.
The resolution recommits the county's law enforcement relationship with federal immigration enforcement agencies and reaffirms its support of the U.S. Constitution, state constitution and county charter.
Republican Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne personally presented both items to the Legislature two weeks ago.
Both measures had unanimous support among the Republicans present at Wednesday night's meeting.
"We don't have the resources, infrastructure, or capacity to provide shelter for New York City's homeless right here in Putnam County," said Toni Addonizio, a Republican member of the Putnam County Legislature representing District 3.
The board's lone Democrat called the laws discriminatory and potentially expose the county to future lawsuits.
"They have fled their home countries due to persecution, violence, and unimaginable hardships. We must play a part in repairing this broken world and this is not the way to do it," said Nancy Montgomery, a Democratic member of the Putnam County Legislature representing District 1.
Both the bill and resolution had strong community support at the county Legislature's rules committee meeting on June 21 but were met with a more mixed reaction on Wednesday.
Several times members of the public and legislators clashed.
Board Chairman Paul Jonke threatened to clear out the room on multiple occasions.
The newly approved measures are similar to two of the three Executive Orders previously enacted as part of the county's state of emergency filed on May 22.
On June 6, a federal judge granted the New York Civil Liberties Union a preliminary injunction barring Rockland and Orange counties from enforcing their executive orders barring New York City from relocating migrants to their communities.
The judge ruled in part that the orders were unconstitutional because they specifically discriminated based on national origin and race.
On June 7, New York City filed a lawsuit against 30 different counties including Putnam accusing them of signing executive orders barring the city from sending migrants to their communities under false pretenses of a "public safety emergency."
The lawsuit also accuses the counties of using the executive orders in an unlawful attempt to prevent the city from responding to a statewide emergency as recognized by Governor Kathy Hochul.
No facilities in Putnam are currently housing migrants and only one has been contacted to do so but denied that request, according to county officials.
A spokesperson for New York City Mayor Eric Adams' office has not yet responded to our request for comment on tonight's vote.


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