National Guard in place in Rochester to help with asylum seekers; 3 City Council members want Guard removed

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — National Guard members arrived at the Holiday Inn in downtown Rochester earlier today. That’s where more than 40 people seeking asylum have been staying.

National Guard members were being walked around the outside of the hotel today for a safety briefing of the building itself.

The governor’s office says they’re here to provide logistical and operational support to the asylum seekers.

What specifically does that mean? For now, they’re handling food and water distribution, connecting asylum seekers with legal materials and resources they might need, and just generally managing the area where they are staying.

There are 108 National Guard members spread out between four sites hosting asylum seekers between Erie and Monroe counties. There will be a total of about 27 at the Holiday Inn downtown.

Monroe Count Executive Adam Bello requested their deployment to our area.

“That’s what they do. They respond to emergencies, to weather events, to emergency sheltering and things like that,” Bello said earlier this week. “This is what they do, this is what they specialize in. Why wouldn’t we want people who specialize in emergency housing and logistical support like this? Why wouldn’t we want them here at the hotel to provide that?”

Three City Council members today released a statement in opposition of the sending of the Guard and called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to remove them from Rochester. City Council Vice President Mary Lupien and Councilmembers Stanley Martin and Kim Smith stated: “… In our view, this measure is unacceptable, and overpolices an incredibly vulnerable group of people in our city.” They added that “Rochester is a Sanctuary City, and our new residents must be welcomed with open arms — not met with excessive scrutiny.”

“Instead of bringing the National Guard to Rochester, New York State and Governor Hochul should send positive resources to support migrants in our city.  Housing, workforce training and education are far more productive resources that would support our new residents and give them the tools they need to thrive in Rochester — just as so many immigrants in our city do,” the statement continued.

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