NYC migrant crisis: Calls for NY lawmakers to hold special session grow louder

As the migrant crisis continues in New York City, Governor Kathy Hochul is not ruling out calling lawmakers back to Albany before January for a special session to deal with the migrant crisis. 

However, Democratic state leaders have been relatively silent on the issue for the past few months and show no signs that they are willing to come back. Other lawmakers say they would like to see state solutions to this crisis.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar said.

More than 110,000 migrants and asylum seekers have passed through New York City since last spring, with around 10,000 arriving every month.

City officials have recently begun ramping up pressure on state lawmakers to go back to Albany before January. And while Governor Hochul said she might consider a special session, she also said the answer to the crisis needs to come from Washington.

"I'm entertaining all of our options right now," Hochul said. "We're working closely with the Mayor to resolve this. I believe the answer comes from Washington in the form of work authorization."

State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar on the other hand is taking action and introduced a package of bills this week. This includes a bill that would appoint a statewide coordinator who would be in charge of resettling migrants around the state and a bill that would block counties from refusing to house migrants.


Migrant crisis 'will destroy NYC,' Mayor Adams asserts

The mayor said more than 110,000 migrants have arrived in the city in the past year. He railed against President Biden for failing to help the city and control the border.

"It is time for New York State to take ownership over the migrant crisis," Assemblywoman Rajkumar said. "This is not just New York City's problem. This is the entire state's problem."

Both Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie declined an interview but they did say in statements that the solution to this crisis lies with Congress, not New York.

"We have provided over $1.5 billion to help local municipalities deal with this human crisis," a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins said. "What we need is Washington to step up, New York cannot do this alone. We have Republicans controlling Congress that are refusing to do their jobs. Democrats in Albany have stepped up to help while Republicans have simply tried to use this as a political tool to feed hate and bias."

"Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Republican colleagues have refused to act on this federal crisis," Speaker Heastie said. "They have used this as a political football to kick around rather than provide assistance to asylum seekers and impacted communities. I have been speaking about this issue with my colleagues in Congress and the White House since this started when Republican governors began busing people to cities across the country."


NYC migrant crisis: Dueling protests emerge over Staten Island shelter

The Staten Island Inter-Religious Council held a news conference to counter the protests that continue to pop up in front of the shuttered Catholic school, which has been housing dozens of migrants since last month.

GOP state lawmakers have been calling for weeks for a special session.

Among the proposals is a bill to remove the right to shelter mandate in New York City, allow counties to issue emergency orders to block migrants, and a bill that would give the Legislature more control over how state money is spent on this crisis.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt pointed to the lack of action at the federal level and says it is time for the state to take charge.

"The President wouldn't even meet with the governor on this issue. She had to meet with presidential staff which is unbelievable," Senator Ortt said about a recent meeting Hochul had in D.C with White House staff. "So I think that tells you everything you need to know about where the White House is."

Special sessions are not necessarily uncommon, in fact, lawmakers held a special session at the end of 2022 to give themselves a pay raise.