Disturbing events that have transpired in recent weeks involving asylum-seekers at Buffalo-area hotels have prompted Erie County officials to demand an immediate cessation of migrant transfers from New York City. The decision came on the heels of two disturbing incidents tied to the migrants.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz expressed his dismay saying the county’s “trust and good faith has been betrayed.” Previously supportive of housing migrants, Poloncarz has directed that the National Guard provide security at three Cheektowaga hotels, which currently function as shelters. After multiple incidents, he also called for the immediate discontinuation of one hotel’s use, the Best Western on Dingens Street.
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A representative for Mayor Eric Adams (D) of New York City acknowledged the city’s push to distribute the migrant burden and stated, “We are appreciative of all our partners across the state, especially in Erie County, who are stepping up and doing their part to meet the needs of asylum seekers.”
However, the relationship soured quickly after a Venezuelan migrant was accused of a violent assault at a Cheektowaga hotel. This incident was followed shortly after by a second involving an asylum-seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Poloncarz has also pointed fingers at DocGo, a New York City-hired firm overseeing the migrant relocation. Paid hundreds of millions of dollars, this company is now under scrutiny for potential interference with the police investigation into the second incident.
Addressing the situation, Poloncarz said, “I demanded Mayor Adams pause all further transportation of asylum-seekers to our community until such time as we can resolve all security issues.” He highlighted that he and Mayor Adams discussed the necessity of an improved security plan to prevent further incidents.
It’s essential to understand that Erie County was originally more than willing to assist with the migrant burden. “Erie County opened its arms to try to welcome these new Americans,” Poloncarz noted. However, after recent incidents, the county executive emphasized, “Unfortunately we believe we can’t make the program, as it is presently run, sustainable without significant changes.”
Poloncarz’s sentiment was echoed by Cheektowaga Police Department Chief Brian Gould, who called for extra funding for increased police presence around the hotel areas. He stated the importance of community safety and highlighted the emerging concerns and quality-of-life issues for nearby residents.
With the recent incidents, the question of safety and vetting processes for relocated migrants has come to the forefront. It remains to be seen how New York City and surrounding counties will collaborate to ensure the safety of both their residents and incoming migrants while also upholding America’s long-standing tradition of welcoming those in need.
New York City continues to face challenges with the influx of migrants, emphasizing the dire situation. A representative for Mayor Adams said, “Every day, we receive hundreds of additional asylum seekers and we are out of space.”