Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks during a news conference on...

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks during a news conference on Friday. Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued an emergency order Friday that addresses the possibility that asylum-seekers from New York City may be temporarily housed in the county. 

There has been no official request that Suffolk shelter migrants, and Bellone's order does not call for a ban. It formalizes the creation of a local team that "will continue to coordinate directly with New York State regarding this ongoing crisis and talk with local nonprofits to assist," according to a news release.

The order seeks to block Suffolk hotels, motels and shelters from contracting with New York City to accept asylum-seekers. Bellone called on the state to take the lead on the issue.

The order reiterates the county’s stance that New York City, which has more than 42,000 migrants in its care, should not bus “asylum-seekers to random hotels across the state,” according to a news release. Instead, county officials say the state should coordinate the response and choose federal and state sites to place migrants.

Bellone issued the news release two weeks after Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency due to New York City Mayor Eric Adams' decision to send asylum-seekers to a handful of upstate communities. New York City has dealt with tens of thousands of migrants arriving in recent months and has been asking for help statewide.

Bellone's order formalizes an intergovernmental task force, announced Tuesday, that will be headed by his chief deputy county executive Lisa Black and include members of the county's police and social services departments and coordinate with nonprofits.

The issue has been a political football in recent days. Republicans who control the Suffolk legislature announced Sunday they wanted to hire an outside attorney to explore legal options to block migrants.

A day later, Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the legislature's presiding officer, said: "There's nothing that is happening right now that leads us to believe we have to take immediate action." 

No vote was taken at the legislature's most recent meeting on Tuesday. Earlier that day, migrant advocates protested at the county legislature, saying Republicans were stoking fears. McCaffrey has said the stance was not anti-migrant.

McCaffrey said Friday he would call a special meeting next week to vote on hiring an attorney.

Shoshana Hershkowitz, founder of the advocacy group Suffolk Progressives, called Bellone’s order “a much more level-headed and humane approach” to the issue.

Bellone spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle noted that Democratic county executives other than Bellone, in Albany and Monroe counties, have issued similar executive orders this week.

“The state has the tools and the resources necessary; they are in a better position to respond,” she said.

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