Orleans County issues emergency order; Governor looks to SUNY colleges to potentially house migrants

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ORLEANS COUNTY, N.Y. – Orleans County has issued an emergency order in response to the migrant situation at the southern border.

Title 42, which halted asylum applications during COVID, has expired. Gov. Kathy Hochul is looking at options across the state to house migrants.

The Orleans County Chairman of the Legislature issued the emergency order blocking migrants and asylum seekers unless they have permission from the head of the Orleans County Legislature.

The declaration says there shall be no contract allowing transportation or housing of migrants without written permission from the county chairman. The order lasts for 30 days.

The county says it’s facing a housing crisis due to an increase in placement of homeless persons.

Any violation could result in an appearance ticket, civil penalties, or even a misdemeanor. Hochul has been looking at state colleges for possible housing, according to a State University of New York spokesperson.

One of the sites considered was SUNY Geneseo. a spokesperson for SUNY Brockport referred all questions to SUNY. So did the governor’s office.

“At Gov. Hochul’s direction, we are assessing whether there are SUNY resources available to help with the arrival of asylum seekers,” a SUNY spokesperson said.

A Livingston County spokesperson says state officials have decided the campus isn’t a “desirable site” because of transportation and access to services.

The spokesperson continues that there are no plans to house anyone in their community at this time, and migrants won’t be housed there without notifying elected officials first.

Some Republican lawmakers from upstate New York have sent a letter to the governor’s office, demanding more details on her plans for housing.

They say they’re “gravely concerned about the lack of transparency,” asking how long migrants will be housed, where, and who will foot the bill.

They’re also asking that municipalities have an option to decline housing in their communities.