SUNY campuses being considered to house influx of asylum seekers

SUNY campuses being considered to house influx of asylum seekers
(Photo courtesy of SUNY Old Westbury)

As New York State receives a growing number of refugees seeking asylum, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is looking at the SUNY system as a potential housing solution to address the influx. But this will not include SUNY Old Westbury.

Michael Kinane, vice president of communications and college relations at SUNY Old Westbury, told Blank Slate that while the campus was assessed Friday by a request from the governor, it will not be utilized for housing asylum seekers.

State Sen. Jack Martins initially told News 12 Friday that state inspectors would be sent to the campus.

Blank Slate Media contacted Martins’ office but could not speak with him before publication.

Martins, a Nassau Republican, has historically opposed welcoming undocumented immigrants and told News 12 that he opposes New York State’s sanctuary status.

​​”Now communities like ours, like here in Nassau County and elsewhere in New York State, have to deal with the realities of migrants being shipped into our communities without the resources we need to deal with them, without knowing who they are and quite frankly, potentially putting us all at risk,” Martins told News 12.

While SUNY Old Westbury will no longer be consider, State Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Westbury) said that he would be open-minded to any reasonable suggestion to address an influx of migrants seeking asylum.

Lavine said he estimates New York has received well over 50,000 asylum seekers, and “more will be coming.” Because of this, he said something must be done to address the impact on local communities.

He said that asylum seekers are subject to “intense hatred” by his colleagues in government, but that the “hatred is never going to help solve whatever issue these folks will present.”

“It’s our obligation and it’s our legal requirement to house them and process them,” Lavine said.

He said the current political climate and conversations about refugees are comparable to the Jewish refugees of the 1930s who were escaping genocide.

The political movement during the 1930s referred to as “America First” prioritized the interests of the United States over foreign issues and was a leading policy for the United States’ refusal to join World War II.

Lavine said this movement effectively prevented Jewish refugees from seeking asylum in the United States and led to their murder during the Holocaust.

He said that while 90 years have passed since then, the same issues are arising with the current migrant crisis.

“I think it’s time that we all do everything we can to promote humanitarian efforts to try to help people who come here because if they don’t, their lives are in danger,” Lavine said. “Let us hope we learned a lesson in the 1930s. I am positive that some of my colleagues have not learned that lesson.”

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