Asked about projected migrant influx to New York, Onondaga County Executive says ‘We’re not a sanctuary city’

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon told NewsChannel 9 that Syracuse is “not a sanctuary city,” as his administration prepares for the possibility migrants are deferred to Syracuse from New York City.

McMahon and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente are warning their communities don’t have the resources to to help.

The number of people crossing the international border from Mexico into the United States is expected to surge in the days ahead, as a pandemic-era border policy expires at the end of Thursday.

During the pandemic, the so-called “Title 42” allowed the United States to return migrants to their home countries without judicial process. Once the policy expires, the migrants will be allowed to stay in the United States awaiting legal review.

To handle the surge of migrants, border states like Texas have said they’ll bus migrants to cities that are friendly to immigrants, like New York City.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has notified the leaders of Rockland and Orange Counties that he’ll forward some migrants to stay in their hotels, while offering to pay for it.

Upstate leaders, the Onondaga and Oneida County Executives, are preparing for the possibility migrants will be moved farther upstate.

McMahon said: “Over the next 48 hours, the situation at the southern border is going to impact communities across this country in ways it hasn’t already. We’re concerned about the idea of numerous single males coming to our community with no ability to work, housing these individuals, monitoring these individuals who we don’t know who they are.”

“This is a recipe for real problems,” he said.

In 2017, during her last State of the City Address, Mayor Stephanie Miner declared Syracuse a “sanctuary city.”

She said: “I promise you, that so long as I am mayor, the resources of the city, including the Syracuse Police Department, will not be used to enforce federal anti-immigrant policies.”

Mayor Miner was trying to protect undocumented immigrants already living in Syracuse from sudden deportation being threated by President Donald Trump.

At the time, there wasn’t an expectation hundreds of new migrants would suddenly need homes.

When elected, Mayor Ben Walsh continued Miner’s policy of not instructing local police to round up immigrants, but apparently didn’t formally continue the “sanctuary city” status.

Wednesday, May 10, NewsChannel 9 asked County Executive McMahon about that vague “sanctuary city” status.

He said: “Previously, politicians have used those words, but the reality is is that if you can’t declare yourself a sanctuary community unless you control the jails. The reality is the City of Syracuse does not pay for human services in this community, the County of Onondaga does.”

McMahon said he and Mayor Walsh have discussed the issue and are in agreement.

In a statement, Mayor Walsh wrote: “Syracuse has always been a welcoming city, and our community has the experience and infrastructure for resettlement. While we want to do our part in responding to this humanitarian crisis, the situation requires federal solutions and support. This includes ensuring proper screening is in place and that any community that assists in migrant resettlement is provided the appropriate resources and assistance.”

McMahon said: “Being part of a solution is something we always want to be part of, but right now, there is no being part of a solution that creates more risk to public safety and expense to local taxpayers. If we know who these folks are, and they’re vetted, and money comes with them, that’s a different discussion.”

McMahon hasn’t yet enacted, but is considering, a similar order to what was issued Wednesday in Oneida County.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente ordered hotels and shelters not to take migrants, citing the community’s lack of resources to help them.

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