Gov. Hochul Declares State of Emergency Over Expected Migrant Wave

Photo by Mike Groll, Office of the Governor

With the federal Title 42 border policy set to expire Thursday at midnight, Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an executive order to prepare for the wave of immigrants expected to arrive in New York in the coming days and weeks. 

Title 42 refers to a section of federal health law that allowed the U.S. government to expel asylum seekers during the pandemic as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus. With the national emergency over, Title 42 will no longer be used to turn away migrants at the southern border.

With this change, Hochul’s executive order will allow the state to increase the number of National Guard service members providing logistical and operational support as well as provide the state with the necessary flexibility to come up with the recourses needed for municipalities to support asylum seekers.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Gov. Hochul said she expects to mobilize an additional 500 members of the National Guard, who are currently providing logistical and operational support at the Port Authority and shelter sites, bringing the total mobilization to approximately 1,500 service members. 

The order will also allow the state, county and local governments to quickly purchase necessary supplies and resources, including food and equipment. 

According to the text of Hochul’s order, “It is anticipated there will be a surge of migration … resulting in the imminent arrival of individuals to the city and state of New York at an increased rate of  …. several thousand additional people seeking shelter each week,” which, the order continues “is expected to exacerbate an already large-scale humanitarian crisis and create a disaster emergency to which local governments are unable to adequately respond, creating a threat to health and safety, which could result in the loss of life or property.”

Specifically, Executive Order 28 allows the governor and other state officials to:

  • Purchase food, supplies, services, and equipment or furnish or provide various centralized services to assist affected local governments, individuals, and other non-state entities in responding to and recovering from the disaster emergency;
  • Purchase commodities, services, technology and materials without following the standard notice and procurement processes;
  • Temporarily prevent the creation of a landlord-tenant relationship between any individual assisting with the response to the state of emergency or any individual in need of shelter or housing because of the circumstances that led to the state of emergency, and any individual or entity, including but not limited to any hotel owner, hospital, not-for-profit housing provider or any other person or entity who provides temporary housing for a period of 30 days or more, solely for purposes of assisting in the response to the state of emergency.

“For more than a year, we have been working closely with [New York City] Mayor [Eric] Adams to provide support and advocate for federal resources to address the large numbers of asylum seekers arriving in New York City,” Hochul said. “With Title 42 set to expire, the circumstances on the ground are expected to change significantly and this Executive Order will be an important part of our coordinated response. I have spoken to Mayor Adams and county executives throughout New York as we work to address this situation.”

The executive order states; even with the Title 42 Order in place, large numbers of migrants with immediate housing and service needs have arrived in the city and state Of New York over the last several months: the city of New York, alone, is currently providing temporary housing for 36,739 migrants from the southern border, a number that has increased by 12,279 individuals since January, 2023; and by an 1,578 individuals in the just last week.

Working with the Legislature, Hochul secured more than $1 billion in funding to help New York City support asylum seekers in the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget. This includes $741 million for shelter costs, $162 million to support the ongoing National Guard presence, $137 million in health care through NYC Care, $26 million in public assistance, $25 million for the voluntary relocation of families to permanent housing and an additional $5 million for enhanced support through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and $10 million for legal assistance through the Office of New Americans.

Even before Title 42 expires, the expected influx of asylum seekers has caused fights between public officials over where migrants should be housed. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has angered county executives in the lower Hudson Valley by arranging housing for hundreds of migrants in Orange and Rockland counties, without the approval or cooperation of local officials.

New York Republican Committee Chairman Ed Cox blamed Democrats at every level for allowing the border crisis to reach this point.

“Starting at the top, Joe Biden has rolled out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants – over five million have crossed our southern border since he took office – and the crisis will get worse with the expiration of Title 42,” Cox said Wednesday. “Kathy Hochul, Eric Adams, [U.S. Senators] Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand could alleviate this crisis by demanding in no uncertain terms that Joe Biden close the border.”

Governor Hochul says she has raised this issue directly with President Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, Chief of Staff Jeff Zients and former Chief of Staff Ron Klain, among others, consistently pushing for additional federal funding to deal with the crisis in New York and requesting shorter waiting periods before asylum seekers can legally work.