New York's public higher education system is prepared to assist with the ongoing migrant situation as campuses are being considered as temporary housing sites, State University of New York Chancellor John King told reporters on Wednesday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is yet to announce which campuses will be used for housing migrants, considered a temporary solution given dormitories will be back in use by students starting in August.
"No decisions have been made, but we're certainly committed at SUNY to try to help the state and New York City try to navigate this difficult moment," King said after delivering an address on the state of the SUNY system.
Officials are considering campuses in Albany, Buffalo and Stony Brook for migrant housing. Hochul has also said state properties like closed psychiatric centers as well as a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport are being considered.
This is a humanitarian crisis, and I think the governor has been clear that she rightly believes every institution needs to step up to help with this crisis," King said.
Housing migrants at SUNY campuses has been criticized by some public officials. Republican U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro proposed a measure in Congress to block any move to do so.
“I’m fighting to stop Gov. Hochul from using schools and colleges as shelters for migrants," Molinaro said. "Upstate New York taxpayers pay thousands of dollars to support our public education system. SUNY college students pay thousands of dollars for room and board. Our schools are not shelters.”
Hochul, meanwhile, has also called for the Biden administration to expedite the working permitting process for migrants with asylum seeker status -- a proposal that has the backing of Democratic state lawmakers, but has not received approval from the federal government.
The issue was discussed at a meeting with Hochul and top Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday morning.
"I think there's a lot of longer-term solutions," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said at a news conference. "I think that would help, people can start to sustain themselves in this situation."
At the same time, New York is seeking additional federal aid, including support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- aid that is also yet to be approved.
"We certainly would like more resources from the federal government and continue to ask for that," said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.