How New York should respond to the thousands of migrants coming to the state is highlighting the political divide seen nationally over the issue.
For Democrats, lawmakers this week backed Gov. Kathy Hochul's push to allow migrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. the opportunity to work on a more expedited basis. Republicans, meanwhile, are criticizing plans to move migrants outside of New York City and, in some cases, potential State University of New York campuses.
Either way, the national debate over migrant policy is now part of New York's politics.
Democratic state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and dozens of her colleagues this week urged President Joe Biden to act on the expedited work permits — echoing a call from Hochul this month.
"There are thousands — thousands of entry level positions that are open now," Fahy said.
Fahy’s call comes as New York is grappling with an influx of migrants, resulting in a scramble for housing sites and a flurry of emergency orders by local officials meant to bar migrants from communities outside New York City.
"Having someone wait 180 days, you’re almost inviting problems and I think that’s fueling some of the resistance," she said. "I’ve been dismayed to see some of the comments. We’re New York. We have a history of being a welcoming state."
Moving migrants to upstate communities was first proposed this month by New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Fahy believes upstate communities should welcome the chance to fill jobs in retail and on farms.
"They’re looking to New York’s upstate to help as well," she said. "But it’s much easier to help if the asylum seekers are able to work."
But on the other side of the issue is a battle over housing. Hochul is considering state public college and university campuses as temporary housing. A decision is yet to be made as which campuses will be used, but Hochul has said all state-owned properties are being considered, including former psychiatric centers.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt calls that a bad idea.
"College students return to these campuses in August. It’s almost June," Ortt said. "You only have two and a half months. I don’t know what solution is going to manifest in two and a half months."
Ortt this week proposed housing migrants in convention centers in New York City, a plan that Democratic officials have not supported.
"I just think that’s where they wanted to be and moving them all around for two months at a time – I don’t know that’s a better answer for the migrants, it’s not a long-term plan," he said.
Ortt said it’s a broader failure of the federal government — dating back decades — that has led states like New York to have to address the issue.
"I don’t think anyone can argue that it’s the failure of the border policy that has partly led – partly – to this crisis to begin with," he said.