STATEN ISLAND - A Staten Island Judge has ruled that New York City may no longer use a former high school as a migrant shelter, as the city continues to struggle to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis.
Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Wayne Ozzi issued an injunction saying that St. John Villa Academy cannot be used as a shelter for migrants and asylum seekers and that the location must be vacated immediately.
The decision comes after several days of fiery, prolonged protests from residents and local leaders.
"The city, by the policies it has in place, created its own emergency," said New York State Assemblymember Michael Tannousis.
New York City is a sanctuary city, meaning that it won't turn asylum seekers looking for refuge away. The city's right-to-shelter mandate also means it must provide a roof for the homeless, something that leaders on Staten Island have long said shouldn't apply to just anyone.
"The issue for us is that New York City taxpayers should not be footing the bill," said Borough President Vito Fossella.
"To the administration and to the Mayor and the lawyers who are speaking on his behalf, don't appeal today's decision," said City Councilman David Carr. "Use it to help us finally crawl out of this hole and end our open-ended engagement with this migrant crisis."
So far, 116,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since last spring.
Acknowledging the strain on New Yorkers in dealing with this crisis, the city says that St. John Villa Academy is just one of 210 sites currently functioning as an emergency shelter, including 17 large-scale humanitarian relief centers.
In response to the court's decision, a spokesperson for the Mayor announced, "We are taking steps to immediately appeal this ruling, which we believe is incorrect in key respects and which threatens to disrupt efforts to manage this national humanitarian crisis."
The city has consistently called on both the State and Federal governments for assistance, emphasizing that the current shelter options are becoming increasingly limited.
Although required immediately, it is unclear when the migrants will be forced to leave St. John Villa Academy and where they will go.