Immigrant Advocates and Elected Officials Call on Orange County to Support Asylum Seekers

New York—On Wednesday, State Supreme Court Judge Sandra Sciortino granted Orange County a preliminary injunction that stops New York City from sending asylum seekers to hotels in Orange County without getting a court order, and mandates that New York City continues to pay for services for the 186 asylum seekers already staying at two hotels in Newburgh.

Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:

“It is time for Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus to stop fueling dangerous and hateful rhetoric that reinforces inaccurate portraits of vulnerable people who are simply pursuing their legal right to claim asylum. With declining populations and the economic hardships from the pandemic still plaguing many upstate regions, this is a perfect time for him to start focusing on the opportunities being offered to local small businesses and hotels with New York City footing the bill for new arrivals. The fabricated veterans story he peddled should be evidence enough that his perspective is not rooted in facts or concern for the well-being of Orange County residents, but designed for his own political gain. Instead of infringing on the rights of business owners, we need to be working toward solutions that build our communities and our economy for all of us. We are calling on Orange County to stop playing politics with people’s lives. It’s dangerous, cruel and serves no one other than Orange County Executive Steve Neauhaus.”

Orange County Legislator Genesis Ramos: 

“It's extremely disappointing to see how County Executive Nehaus continues to handle the situation with asylum seekers in Orange County. The recent injunction against the executive orders that were deemed unconstitutional and discriminatory should have been a wake-up call for him to take a collaborative approach and find real solutions. Instead, he seems to be more interested in pandering to his base and engaging in political theater. It's disappointing that he hasn't even come to the table to discuss the humanitarian crisis at hand with the Orange County Legislature. The decisions being made are not representative of the entire county, and it's clear that his messaging is driven by ego and xenophobia. If he truly wants to be a leader, he needs to listen to the people on the ground who are doing the work to support this issue and engage in productive and compassionate dialogue. His latest executive order, which simply changes the language of asylum seekers/migrants to homeless persons, is just as discriminatory because no one should be discriminated against based on their housing status. We will continue to work towards finding solutions and supporting our community at large regardless of his absence in this process.”

Orange County Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan: 

“Neuhaus has repeatedly used asylum seekers as political pawns instead of treating them with dignity and as human beings. From creating fake state of emergencies that were rejected in federal court, to promoting false news stories that pinned veterans against asylum seekers. Neuhaus has repeatedly promoted fear mongering and xenophobic tactics that have disgraced Orange county’s reputation on the national stage. Being the first county is nothing to be celebrated, it is disgraceful.”

City of Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey: 

“I hope our County Executive and elected officials use the same meticulous effort to achieve a temporary injunction to stop asylum seekers from coming to Orange County in petitioning our state and federal elected officials to create a comprehensive immigration reform law.”

City of Newburgh Councilmember Anthony Grice:

“We should always defer to the kindest parts of ourselves, and celebrate those wins. Whether it is the homeless, immigrants, or others, we must strive for a respectfully inclusive society. Anything else is dehumanizing.”

City of Newburgh Councilmember Giselle Martinez: 

“No one is illegal on stolen land, our new neighbors should be welcomed with open arms. The County Executive should not continue misinforming Orange County Constituents with his fear-mongering, and to dehumanize and criminalize our new neighbors. The tone he set has created a hostile environment in Orange County, and he should be ashamed of himself as he is not being an equitable and compassionate leader in our county. Make no mistake, his messaging is not a reflection of our values here in Orange County, and while he continues to be discriminatory we will continue our welcoming efforts.”