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NYC suspends plan to send asylum seekers to Salina hotel

Abby Connolly

Plans by New York City to send asylum seekers to a Syracuse-area hotel are on hold for now.

The city has been struggling to house thousands of asylum seekers from the southern border following the expiration of pandemic-era border restrictions. The city alerted Onondaga County last weekend that it was sending some of the asylum seekers to a Candlewood Suites property in the Town of Salina. Dozens of long term borders at the hotel were told to leave to make way for the new borders, with New York City footing the bill.

This was done after County Executive Ryan McMahon issued an order last week banning such shelters from being set up in local hotels. The county sued and won the first round, with Supreme Court Judge Robert Antonacci issuing a temporary restraining order barring the hotel, along with any other hotel in the county, from accepting asylum seekers from New York.

New York City then agreed to suspend its plan to send asylum seekers to the area while the issue is heard by the courts. McMahon said he’s glad New York is being responsible and not ignoring the judicial order.

“Our emergency order says another government cannot come and establish shelters for migrants in our community," McMahon said. "It is not a migrant ban. We have migrants that are coming directly into our community and in our emergency order it clearly states that there is a process for any government to go through a licensing with us if they wanted to locate migrants in the community.”

McMahon said what’s been unfolding in central New York over the last few days is a microcosm of why the migrant crisis in New York City needs to be managed better.

"We cannot have situations where you have people living in a property, moved, becoming housing insecure, because an owner is getting a bigger paycheck from New York City," McMahon said.

McMahon said he had no idea if buses holding asylum seekers were already on their way to central New York, or any other particulars of New York’s plan. The case will be taken up in court on Friday.

McMahon issued an emergency order last week banning asylum seekers from taking up residence in local hotels, saying the county doesn’t have the capacity to house them.

McMahon did say he supports Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to offer SUNY campuses as possible landing spots for the asylum seekers that have flooded into New York City from the Southern border.

In the meantime, McMahon said the proper procedure would be for New York City to apply for a license from the county to send asylum seekers north. He maintains though that Onondaga County, right now, doesn’t have the capacity to accept hundreds of asylum seekers from New York — noting 1,900 refugees from other countries, will be resettling in the county over the next 16 months.

"Until we’re comfortable with meeting the commitments we’ve already made to refugees from Ukraine, Sudan, Afghanistan and other countries, until we have our ducks in a row there, it’s very hard to say we can be part of a broader solution," McMahon said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.