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Schenectady County Update

Schenectady County Seal

Residents of Schenectady County should rest assured that the members of the Schenectady County Legislature remain committed to preserving the health and safety of all residents of and visitors to our community and take this responsibility seriously.

“By the authority vested in me as Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature, I am convening the Schenectady County Legislature in session at a Special Meeting on Monday July 24, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. for the purpose of discussing the asylum-seeker issue and directing the county manager to issue an emergency order prohibiting the further acceptance and housing of any asylum-seekers in Schenectady County by any parties,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “Our residents have legitimate concerns when it comes to the process through which asylum-seekers arrived in our community earlier this week. We have these same concerns, which arise from the lack of transparency and clear communication from New York City before sending these individuals to our community. Schenectady County will aggressively pursue all legal means at its disposal to deter the further relocation of asylum-seeking individuals by any party to the County of Schenectady.”

Special Meeting

Date: Monday, July 24, 2023

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Legislative Chambers, 620 State Street (6th Floor), Schenectady

Earlier this week New York City, through its contractor DocGo, signed a deal with the operator of the Super 8 Motel in the Town of Rotterdam, which is now housing approximately 183 asylum-seekers that were previously within their jurisdiction. The County has learned of new developments relating to the immigration crisis in New York City – there is no more space for new people coming in, and in the coming days NYC will begin moving current migrants out of shelters to make room for families arriving with children.[1]

Approximately 90,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in New York City since last spring, leading city leaders to seek additional locations to house them. In May, New York City began placing asylum seekers in counties throughout New York State wherever they could find a hotel operator to contract with.

“While the City of New York transporting busses full of asylum-seekers to Schenectady County without warning or consultation is unconscionable, it is a result of the failure of the Federal and State Government to address immigration reform in a meaningful and responsible way.” said Chairman Jasenski. “Schenectady County is geographically the smallest county in New York State, and our local resources are insufficient to handle and care for a large influx of asylum-seekers. The only immigration courts that exist in New York State where these asylum cases can be heard are in Buffalo and New York City so housing these individuals here in Schenectady County makes absolutely no sense. Our State and Federal government needs to do more to address this crisis.”

Schenectady County leaders have tried diligently to have discussions with representatives of the City of New York and its contractor DocGo, which is managing the asylum-seekers and providing services to them during their stay at the Super 8. This was an effort to provide some clarity for the county and its residents. There remain too many unanswered questions and with this new development, no guarantee that Schenectady County will not be the recipient of additional individuals seeking asylum or being relocated from other jurisdictions. The potential impact on the taxpayers of Schenectady County is considerable.

On their first conference call, county staff pressed representatives of the City of New York to improve the lines of communication and requested additional information relating to the individuals housed at the Super 8. The following information was provided to us:

  • All of the Super 8 occupants, which are primarily families – with pregnant women and children, are asylum seekers at various stages in the asylum application process;
  • The asylum-seekers were given health screenings before coming to Rotterdam;
  • DocGo will provide three meals a day and access to a supervisor, case manager, licensed social worker, and a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who will be on site;
  • DocGo has security on site; and
  • DocGo will provide translation services and help the asylum-seekers through the immigration process, including assisting with paperwork filing and scheduling appointments.

“Schenectady County has been at the forefront of the effort to press New York City for more information about the individuals they sent to our community and working diligently to mitigate the impact of the asylum seekers on our community. This includes reaching out to our local non-profit service agencies to provide humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the asylum seekers without straining our county-run social service agencies,” said Chairman Jasenski. “We will continue to monitor the situation and do everything we can to ensure that DocGo and New York City make good on all the promises they have made in regard to housing, feeding, securing, and managing the group of asylum-seekers staying at the Super 8 in Rotterdam.”

In an effort to mitigate the immediate impact, Schenectady County will continue to work with our local elected officials and urgently call upon our State and Federal leaders to allocate additional resources to help affected communities deal with any financial impacts, find alternate adequate housing that provides a safe and secure environment for these individuals while their asylum cases are being heard, and, call on the Attorney General to look into the displacement of the individuals staying at the Super 8 Motel whose rights were violated when it was abruptly closed on Tuesday.