A resolution allowing Suffolk legislators to hire an attorney to look at options to block migrants from coming to the county was approved on Thursday. NewsdayTV's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

Suffolk County legislators voted Thursday to hire an attorney to advise them on blocking asylum-seeking migrants, joining other counties across New York that have sought to close their doors.

In a special meeting that drew supporters and opponents of the plan, legislators voted mostly along party lines, 11 to 6, in favor of the proposal, announced in late May by Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) and other Republican legislators. 

Republicans hold an 11-7 majority on the legislature. Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was not at the meeting.

An attorney has not been named. They will advise the county on whether potential litigation would be successful and if Suffolk can seek reimbursement or damages from other municipalities, according to the measure approved by legislators.

“We've heard reports of migrants coming into other parts of the state that started in Orange County and other areas. And so we wanted to be ready,” McCaffrey told reporters after the meeting. He said Suffolk has not received word that migrants were being sent to the county.

Legis. Manuel Esteban (R-East Northport), whose biography on the legislature's website says his parents are immigrants from Cuba and Colombia, was the only Republican to vote against the measure.

“I cannot come home to my children and my wife and feel clean if I know I caved to political pressure,” he said.

Legis. Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) was the only Democrat to support it.

It is the second action Suffolk has taken in recent days to address the possibility that migrants might be sent from New York City, where hundreds have been arriving every day.

County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, issued an emergency order May 26 to block Suffolk hotels, motels and shelters from contracting with the city to accept asylum-seekers.

Bellone said the state should coordinate the response and choose federal and state sites to place them. His order also formalizes the creation of a local team to work with the state and nonprofits, an approach that drew support from some advocates who objected to the Republicans' plan.

No proposals have been announced in Nassau County since County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, said in mid-May the county would not participate in any programs to shelter migrants.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams' administration cited resistance from upstate and suburban communities as it asked a court last month to suspend a mandate the city is under that essentially requires it to provide shelter to anyone who needs it. 

A state Supreme Court justice last month granted Dutchess County a temporary restraining order blocking more migrants, following the arrival of 86 people at a Red Roof Inn, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Rockland and Orange counties have secured temporary restraining orders and issued emergency orders that prompted a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

New York City suspended its plan to send up to 200 migrants to a hotel in Onondaga County after a court order temporarily blocked it.

In Niagara County, officials have threatened criminal penalties for hotels housing migrants.

At least one upstate county has said it will welcome asylum-seekers. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, said in late May he expected an unknown number to arrive in the Buffalo area and would not turn them away.

A Republican-led attempt to direct him to issue an order blocking migrants was rebuffed by Democrats on the county legislature. 

With AP

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months