Immigrant Advocates & Allies Reject Onondaga County Executive Order on Asylum Seekers

Video of the press conference is available here

New York—Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), allies, faith leaders, member organizations, and immigrant New Yorkers rallied and held a press conference at the park beside Columbus Circle in Syracuse.

Yesterday, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon issued an Executive Order that would block local hotels from housing asylum seekers who had previously been staying in New York City. We categorically condemn County Executive McMahon’s racist rejection of welcoming asylum seekers to Syracuse and surrounding areas. We know that when there is proper coordination between the relevant elected officials, community based organizations and nonprofits, refugees and immigrants can be successfully housed and integrated into our communities, like we have seen with Ukranians and other communities locally. Syracuse must continue to be a welcoming place for all, and our community members are ready to support the asylum seekers who might come here.

“New York State has a rich history of welcoming immigrants, and we refuse to reject this tradition just because Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is turning his back on that legacy and our neighbors. The region is home to countless immigrants who are farmworkers, small business owners, nurses, PTA moms, and so much more. Our state and our communities are richer because of their contributions. We are calling on all elected officials to join us in welcoming new arrivals, demanding coordination from every level of government at the city, state and local level to ensure that Onondaga County does all it can to support people in need, like any good neighbor would do. Together, we can give asylum seekers a proper Syracuse welcome, and show the rest of New York State what it means to be a community that is welcoming to all, irrespective of where you come from and how you got here,” said Kayla Kelechian, Central New York Manager of Organizing and Strategy, New York Immigration Coalition.

"I am a human being and my heart is with the people who are on that bus. When people risk their lives in order to seek asylum, I know they had no other option. When politicians use human beings - real people’s lives - to play political games, I know that is wrong. The people who are coming here deserve our compassion, respect and care. Syracuse might not be a wealthy city, but we know how to look out for each other, and I know we can do the same for people seeking asylum," said Yvonne Griffin, Citizen Action New York, Central New York Chapter.

“Do we really want our community to get caught up in a fight between different government entities over who is responsible for who? No. Instead we should be saying, what can we, as a community, do to help? How can we pool together our resources to ensure those seeking refuge don’t have to keep running for their lives? How can we leverage what we have here to bring more resources into the community to help these individuals? And in the end, what do we need to do to treat these individuals with the dignity they deserve?” said Sal Curran, Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc.