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WKBW 7 News Buffalo

Migrants seeking asylum might be housed at Buffalo State

By Eileen Buckley,


Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says migrants seeking asylum are expected to come to Buffalo. Poloncarz spoke at length about the topic while in downtown Buffalo Wednesday.

Poloncarz also spoke out against those who are against the county accepting the arrivals as New York City is overwhelmed with the influx of migrants crossing the southern border.

“So for those who are out there —  this isn't a crisis. It's not a crisis,” declared Poloncarz.

Poloncarz standing firm saying the county will be welcoming migrants seeking asylum from the southern border, just as it has done for other refugees and immigrants for decades.

“I do anticipate that we will receive asylum seekers, individuals who are legally in the country at this time,” Poloncarz remarked.

Poloncarz says there's no final decision, but he has been in conversations with the New York State’s Department of Homeland Security who are considering housing them at a SUNY campus. WKBW
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz talked about migrants.

“I can report that no final decision has been made yet by the New York State. However, they are considering housing asylum seekers, also known as parolees, at Buffalo State University, and possibly at the University of Buffalo.

The county executive says he's learned that those seeking asylum might end up here at Buffalo State campus because it is a better option with more space than UB and the migrants wouldn't have to leave at the start of the fall semester when students return for classes. WKBW
One of the dorm buildings on Buffalo State campus.

“As they would be placed in dorms the school will not be used for students. If they were to be moved in the short term to UB they would actually then have to be moved out because there will be no room during the school year at the University of Buffalo, but there would be at Buffalo State,” explained Poloncarz.

Several other counties in Western New York declared a ‘state of emergency' saying they don't have the resources to assist.

Erie County Legislator Jim Malczewski, who represents Elma, blasted the county executive and introduced legislation on Sunday calling for Poloncarz to declare a 'state of emergency'. WKBW
Erie County Legislator Jim Malczewski.

“People need services and right now, the county is struggling to provide those services to the residents of Erie County. Bringing these migrants and immigrants here is just going to further the burden the system,” Malczewski stated.

“I don't think there was much research done or much fact provided, you know, to me, the resolution was a little racist, in my opinion,” reacted Howard Johnson, Erie County Legislator from Buffalo. WKBW
Howard Johnson, Erie County Legislator from Buffalo.

Erie County lawmaker Johnson of Buffalo calls his Republican colleague's legislation "political fodder”.

Both Johnson and the county executive say there's too much misinformation about the migrants coming into our community. WKBW
Migrants arriving in NYC.

“There's a lot of unfortunate information out there saying, 'Oh, these are all criminals coming here to rape our children and steal our jobs’ —  false. There will be no one if they're moved to our community, that has a criminal background. That would not even have made it to New York City,” Poloncarz commented. “Any individual, who would be moved here, has turned themselves in at the border to federal authorities, requesting asylum. It’s very important to know these individuals turn themselves into federal authorities at the southern border requesting asylum at that time. They were vetted by federal authorities which includes fingerprinting and running criminal background checks connected with their home countries and any nations they may pass through it.”

Lawmaker Johnson also told me he expects this to be discussed in-depth during the County Legislature meeting Thursday.

“We'll have a healthy dialogue and discussion about facts,” Johnson said.

Poloncarz says he has also been given reassurances from the state that the county would not be paying for housing the arrivals.

“So anyone who's like oh, they're going to tax me more they're gonna take away my services. That is not the case,” noted Poloncarz. WKBW
Migrants arriving in NYC.

Poloncarz also explains that the migrants are not just being dumped into the local community, that there is “a system in place” and a number of agencies the county works with will be assisting with services including Catholic Charities of Buffalo, International Institute of Buffalo, Jericho Road, Jewish Family Services, and Journey’s End Refugee Services.

"As immigrants come to Western New York, The Refugee Partnership is working together to welcome all with compassion and dignity. We know their burdens must be heavy, but we look forward to the care and refuge we are able to provide for our new neighbors. The Refugee Partnership is made up of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, International Institute of Buffalo, Jericho Road, Jewish Family Services, and Journey’s End Refugee Services. We each bring our own areas of expertise to help our newest neighbors find safety and peace. We recognize these individuals have traveled thousands of miles to escape war and persecution. They have the right to claim asylum under U.S. and international law. We stand ready to ensure their human rights.”

The Refugee Partnership

I asked County Executive Poloncarz if he is upset with federal leadership on the matter since housing migrants are being placed on the state and tricking down to local governments.

“Yeah, I'm not happy about it. This has to be solved at the federal level. It requires Democrats and Republicans to come together unfortunately, just like to smack each other over the head, but we need to solve this problem. And it is solvable,” responded Poloncarz. WKBW
Migrants arriving in NYC.

Poloncaz says he expects the arrivals could be here “within two weeks, but not in the next week”.

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