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NYC sued by two counties over ‘sanctuary city’ mayor shipping migrants to upstate hotels


Left: New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) announces migrant relocation plan; Right: migrants relocated from New York City arrive via bus in Rockland County, New York. (screengrabs via YouTube).

Two counties sued New York City over a policy by Mayor Eric Adams that busses migrants to hotels in their jurisdictions, following the expiration of the Trump-era Title 42 immigration policy.

Title 42 is a Trump-era immigration measure put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop individuals from entering the United States as a method of protecting the public from contagious diseases. The policy, which expelled asylum-seekers without further proceedings, was criticized by immigration advocates as being inhumane and causing danger to those most in need of safe haven.

Adams announced Saturday that the iconic, 1,000-room Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan will become the city’s primary “asylum-seeker arrival center” — and that other locations throughout the Big Apple will use for similar shelters. The Roosevelt has been closed for almost three years.

The mayor also announced that some migrants will be bussed to hotels in Rockland and Orange counties as well as other upstate areas. In response, the two counties issued executive orders barring the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers.

“New York City is a self-proclaimed sanctuary city and needs to fix this problem Orange County now faces,” demanded Orange County Executive Stephen Neuhaus, a Republican, in an emailed statement. “This issue was created by Mayor Adams and the Federal government’s failed immigration policies.”

Orange County’s complaint filed Friday against Adams and the city alleges that without notice, buses showed up the day before at The Crossroads hotel in Newburgh and “dropped off numerous homeless men to be housed in the City-created, and illegal, temporary homeless shelter” and contracted to fill a nearby Ramada hotel, both in violation of the county’s executive order.

Orange County asks the court to issue an injunction to stop Adams from relocating migrants to these hotels and argues that long-term usage of its hotel facilities is improper under existing legal standards.

Orange County Attorney Rick Golden said in an emailed statement to Law&Crime:

Unlike Rockland County, which had a hotel that wasn’t in compliance with existing permitting requirements, the hotels in Orange County had valid permits to exist as short-term rentals. Accordingly, the time to sue could not effectively start until the individual’s Mayor Eric Adams sent here arrived, and these permitted short-term rental units were converted into long-term homeless housing shelters, which is not legal.

In a similar lawsuit also filed Thursday, Rockland County alleges that Adams, “without any legal authority whatsoever” relocated 340 adult men experiencing homelessness to the Armoni Inn & Suites in Orangeburg, Rockland County.

According to the Rockland filing, New York City, “will be providing case management, laundry services, and three meals a day, all of which is not consistent with a hotel stay of a guest at no cost.” The court documents say that the relocation will quadruple Rockland County’s homeless population and cause significant health risks.

Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach, also a Republican, said in a statement:

The City of New York lacks authority to establish a shelter outside of its boundaries in addition to failing to follow New York State rules and regulations required to do so. At this point, the Temporary Restraining Order which the City failed to appeal Friday prohibits Mayor Eric Adams from bringing people to Rockland County for the purpose of sheltering them.

Beyond sparking litigation, the mayor’s relocation of migrants to upstate hotels has caused a separate ripple. Homeless veterans have been ejected from those hotels to make room for the migrants, advocates told The New York Post on Friday. The New York City Law Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos