Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he plans to refuse additional resettlements of migrants.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office also announced Saturday the deployment of additional New York National Guard personnel and assets to asylum seeker sites in Erie County, saying the deployment builds on more than 1,800 members already assisting this issue across the state.
The moves come after two alleged sexual assault incidents involving asylum seekers in Erie County in the past week, according to police. Just days after an asylum seeker from Venezuela who arrived to the town of Cheektowaga from New York City was charged with raping a woman in front of a 3-year-old child, a second alleged sexual assault case was announced by police.
During a press conference early Saturday, officials said an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was arrested Friday and is being charged with sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment after allegedly sexually assaulting an employee inside a Cheektowaga hotel.
"The victim is a 27-year-old female from Buffalo who was working at the hotel as employed by Platinum Community Care, one of the agencies providing services to the asylum seekers,” Cheektowaga Police Department Chief Brian Gould said.
The police department has reached out to officials for additional assistance to ensure the safety of the town residents.
"I'm asking that for the immediate discontinued use of the Best Western hotel and Dingens Street,” Gould said. “The hotel is located in a residential neighborhood and is causing not only safety concerns to nearby residents, but also quality-of-life issues. I'm calling for extra funding to cover overtime shifts so that we can increase police presence in the community around the hotels."
Poloncarz said he “demanded [New York City] Mayor [Eric] Adams pause all further transportation of asylum seekers to our community until such time as we can resolve all security issues.
“He agreed and informed me they will not send any additional persons to Erie County at this time. We also discussed the need for a new and improved security plan.”
About 540 asylum seekers have been brought to Erie County, and officials are now calling on the asylum seekers to be removed from the hotels.
“Sexual assault is a horrific crime,” a spokesperson for Hochul said in a statement. “The Governor is grateful to Erie County law enforcement for their work in this matter and has directed State personnel to provide all necessary support.”