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Long Island Republicans call for an end to New York's sanctuary status

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) at podium
J.D. Allen
Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) at the podium.

Republican lawmakers from Long Island are concerned over an influx of migrants into New York City from the U.S. southern border. They urge Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams to rescind sanctuary status.

The resolution to become a sanctuary city is meant to offer support to undocumented immigrants by limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) said the status is "self-imposed," and can be withdrawn. He also criticizes Adams’ request for Long Island to house and care for some of the asylum seekers in the city’s shelter system. He called it unfair and unsafe.

“He doesn’t admit the policies he’s enacted have gone wrong. Rather, he wants to treat Nassau like the sixth borough, and Suffolk like the seventh borough to mop up his mess,” LaLota said alongside state and local Republican officials on Thursday.  

State Senator Anthony Palumbo, R-Riverhead, denounced accusations of racism from the governor and mayor for opposing taking on migrants.

"That's not what this is about. We just don't think we can handle an unlimited influx from any border, from any country," he said. "They have tooted that horn so often, that they now stand in a position where they can't have the political fortitude to call this crisis what it is."

Republicans also called out Hochul for supporting what they called the “inhumane” housing of the migrants. They cited the emergency tent shelters to house single adult men, including at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center near near the Nassau County border.

For months, Hochul has been calling on the Biden administration for billions of dollars in federal aid to help with housing and expedite work authorizations.

After meeting with the White House on Wednesday, she said the federal government will provide personnel, data, and resources to identify those who are eligible, but have not yet applied, for work authorization.

"As New Yorkers know, securing expedited work authorization for asylum seekers and migrants has been and remains my top priority," Hochul said in a statement. "It is the only way to help asylum seekers become self-sustaining, so they can move into permanent housing."

Last month, her administration rolled out $20 million to help hire caseworkers to help process the thousands of asylum seekers entering New York City's shelter system. Hochul has also been at odds with Adams, blocking him from sending migrants to places outside the city, especially without the consent of local leaders.

Still, State Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, R-Malverne, criticized Hochul’s handling of the situation.

“New Yorkers are burdened already with inflation, congestion pricing, MTA increases —we are so overrun at this point, that to ask New Yorkers to take on another burden is just unconscionable and fiscally irresponsible,” she said.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.