Watch CBS News

New York City sues 31 state localities for refusing asylum seekers

NYC files lawsuit against 30 counties for refusing asylum seekers
NYC files lawsuit against 30 counties for refusing asylum seekers 02:15

NEW YORK -- In an unprecedented move, New York City has filed a lawsuit against many state counties for refusing to accept asylum seekers.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day was the first local official to try and stop New York City from busing asylum seekers to his local hotels, and now he is the first on a list of 31 people -- 30 county executives and Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguilar -- sued Wednesday by the city for issuing what it says is unlawful executive orders to close their borders to asylum seekers.

"These counties have implemented misguided and unlawful executive orders," said Sylvia Hinds-Radix of the NYC Corporation Counsel.

READ MOREMayor Eric Adams floats idea of homeowners with spare rooms taking in asylum seekers

The city also wants to stop the localities from imposing fines on hotels that accept asylum seekers.

"These executive orders burden and obstruct New York City's lawful and responsible effort to address an ongoing state-wide emergency," Hinds-Radix said.

This as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving in the city continue to swell. With the 2,100 that arrived this week, the total number is more than 74,000 since the crisis started.

READ MORENew York City turns to houses of worship to shelter asylum seekers, Adams cites religious obligation to people in need

The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless support the suit, saying in a joint statement, "Upstate elected officials must cease with the xenophobic and racist rhetoric, and frivolous legal strategies to thwart efforts to relocate new arrivals outside of New York City, and instead exhibit some semblance of leadership to assist with this humanitarian crisis."

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom says the city desperately needs President Joe Biden to approve quicker pathways to allow the asylum seekers to work.

"People want to work. That is what they came here for -- to be able to start their new life and to get connected and on their journey to get resettled," Williams-Isom said.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries secured another $104.6 million in federal aid for the city. A Schumer spokesman told CBS2 the senator has personally pushed the White House to expedite work permits.

A spokesperson for Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus insists the city's lawsuit lacks merit. He says the county will continue to try to keep asylum seekers out.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.