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Seneca County leader says they cannot handle influx of migrants because social services, housing are already strained

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  • Staff Report 

How should Upstate counties handle the prospect of asylum seekers being sent their way?

While some counties have released broad resolutions opposing it, as state officials like Gov. Kathy Hochul mull over its options, Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chair Michael Enslow said he’s looking for clarity.

He emphasized that while Seneca County is hospitable, it has its limitations. The county, one of the smallest in New York State, is already grappling with a strained housing situation and an overworked public assistance network.

Consequently, even its homeless population sometimes requires transportation to other counties for shelter.

“Since the middle of last week, I have been involved in multiple phone calls and meetings,” Enslow said. “I was on a web conference with New York City Mayor Eric Adams who asked for upstate counties to step up and lend a hand because New York City declared itself a Sanctuary City. I was on a meeting with the Association of New York State Counties who provided updates. Every day I’ve been on the phone with local colleagues, constituents and colleagues in Albany, trying to keep a hand in on what’s going on. I’ve been in communication with people from the Governor’s Office, who are also soliciting counties to step up – however, we have not filled out the request for people to come here.”

Enslow says communication has been consistent with Sheriff Tim Luce and the Seneca County Office of Human Services.

“I cannot tell you how many meetings, phone calls, and hours I’ve spent on this since last week,” he added. “The bottom line is that the State simply has no plan. The city itself received $1 Billion for people coming in that they themselves aren’t able to take care of in a humane manner.
Governor Hochul & Mayor Adams need to understand & respect that they just cannot send people upstate and expect counties to take care of them in a humane and safe way when the city cannot.”

He called on New York City to roll back the declaration that its a sanctuary city. “The Mayor knows he cannot handle the people and treat them humanely at the same time. Seneca County cannot do it. If we could, we would welcome people with open arms,” Enslow continued. “I hope the state recognizes the strain this would put on the smallest of counties and utilizes the resources available in nearby metro areas. We need open communication and transparency from the Governor and the Mayor of New York City.”