New York state is working to find more sites for housing migrants ahead of an expected influx of people seeking asylum in the coming days and as a growing number of county officials have issued states of emergency to bar hotels from accepting migrants.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday in New York City, Hochul questioned whether the executive orders issued by Rockland and Orange county executives were constitutional, adding an analysis was ongoing by state officials. Two more county executives — Oneida's Anthony Picente and Steve McLaughlin in Rensselaer County — have released similar emergency orders.
"We're looking into the constitutionality of what they did," Hochul said, adding the analysis will include whether the orders can be overriden by the state.
Hochul on Tuesday issued her own order to expand the National Guard presence to provide logistical support for local governments handling added migrants. The order was issued as Title 42, a federal immigration order that was meant to expedite the return of migrants to Mexico, is expiring on Thursday.
"We believe this is going to continue to grow in scale," Hochul said. "I'm working very closely with the mayor to identify more sites so we can welcome these individuals. They are human beings, they deserve to be treated with dignity."
The state budget approved this month included $1 billion to support the migrant population in the state, including money for food, shelter and legal services.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams' office last week announced a temporary program to voluntarily move single men to Orange and Rockland counties for four months ahead of the expiration of the federal order. Migrants living in those counties are expected to have transportation to the city as needed and will have social workers assigned to them.
Still, county officials have decried the lack of communication from state officials as well from the Adams administration.
Picente, the Oneida County executive, told reporters on Wednesday a phone call with state emergency officials still left him with questions. Picente's order, similar to the downstate emergency declarations, bars hotels and shelters from accepting migrants.
"I think everyone has to be realistic about what they can and can't do here," Picente said. "We got some vague answers and vague statements from the governor's office."