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Poloncarz: Erie County will not declare 'morally repugnant' state of emergency over migrants

"I won't be declaring a state of emergency regarding the possibility that legal asylum seekers may be housed in our county," Mark Poloncarz said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County will not declare a state of emergency to address migrants, County Executive Mark Poloncarz confirmed on Saturday.

"I won't be declaring a state of emergency regarding the possibility that legal asylum seekers may be housed in our county," he said. "I will not be issuing an emergency order prohibiting the housing of such persons. Not only is such an order illegal, it is morally repugnant."

Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties all declared a state of emergency during this past week. Officials in those counties said those preventative measures were taken to help with social services and community groups.

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Poloncarz pushed back against that notion when it came to Erie County.

"Unless you are a Native American, all of us are the descendants of immigrants, some who were forced to come through slavery," Poloncarz said Saturday in a statement. "You would think that the sons and daughters of immigrants would welcome new peoples to our land.

"However, the history of our country is replete with xenophobic attacks against immigrants who don't look, speak, or pray like us."

Poloncarz also expressed his opposition to some measures that are being used in other counties. For example, Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti said his office would enforce fines for hotel owner who enters into a contract with New York City or New York State.

"Not only is such an order illegal under Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is morally repugnant," he said. 

Erie County lawmakers responded Sunday to Poloncarz's remarks.

County legislator Jim Malczewski is pushing for the county to join the growing list of nearby counties that have already made a state of emergency declaration, and on Monday morning, he will introduce a resolution, calling on Poloncarz to follow suit.

"Kathy Hochul has welcomed everybody with open arms, and here they are on our door step," Malczewski said. "This has happened so far with no plan, and with no plan, it's going to continue to wreak havoc.

"With everybody around you saying our doors are closed, and county executive saying our doors are open, that means everybody is coming here, and without a plan, that's a disservice to the residents of this county."

State Senator Sean Ryan spoke out in support of Erie County as a welcoming community.

"Governor Abbott sent over 70,000 people to New York State. We don't control where the bus ticket goes," he said, referring to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

"I can't see Erie County putting out any exclusionary statement, saying we won't welcome immigrants into Erie County. And I also can't see executives from Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties doing more than making scary noises, because come summer, when they need people to come pick there crops, guess what they are going to be asking for? People to come do that work."


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