Chautauqua County Named In Lawsuit Over Migrant Emergency Order

New York City filed a lawsuit against nearly half of the state’s counties, including Chautauqua, over what it claims are attempts to “wall off their borders” for asylum seekers and migrants. The suit was filed Wednesday by the city and Molly Wasow Park, commissioner of the NYC department of social services, in state Supreme Court.

“They have tried by multiple methods to block New York City from arranging for even a small number of asylum seekers to stay in private hotels within their jurisdictions at the city’s expense amidst a major humanitarian crisis,” the suit claims.

Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, a Republican, shot back at claims that the emergency orders were “xenophobic” as alleged in the suit.

“The county is aware of a recent lawsuit filed by the City of New York, and we will be unable to comment on pending litigation,” Wendel said in a statement. “Chautauqua County objects in the strongest possible way to the defamatory comments that the actions taken by the county are xenophobic bigotry.”

The State of Emergency Wendel issued last month prohibits municipalities from bringing and housing people in the county; prohibits hotels and motels from housing immigrants without a license; and requires any municipality that might bring migrating or asylum-seeking people into Chautauqua County to ensure they will be fully cared for and paid for. The local edict went into effect May 18 and was recently renewed.

Wendel claims the county lacks the services and funding required to assist additional individuals beyond families who already have migrated to the county.

The suit was filed a day after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Rockland and Orange counties downstate from enforcing broad emergency orders that aimed to ban migrants from hotels.


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