For the fourth time since it was initially put in place on May 22nd, Yates County Legislature Chairwoman Leslie Church on Monday extended an Emergency Declaration over the anticipation of an influx of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from New York City to the county.
At Monday’s Legislature meeting, Church said a committee made up of nine people from a number of county agencies is continuing to work on the matter.
“The purpose of this committee is to provide a framework for Yates County to initiate a humanitarian response to a newly arrived group of people with possibly unmet basic needs. We also have had communication with our community partners, which could be of assistance should an arrival occurs. I can assure you that we will be better prepared to meet the humanitarian needs with a plan that is being developed.”
Church identified the nine community members as herself, Doug Sinclair, Yates County Public Health Director; Brian Winslow, Emergency Management; Todd Casella, District Attorney; Howard Davis, Yates County Undersheriff, Amy Miller, Social Services; Nonie Flynn, County Administrator; Jessica Mullins, Assistant County Administrator, and Emilee Miller, Legislature Clerk.
During the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, three Yates County residents asked that the county rescind the Emergency Declaration, including Penn Yan resident Alex Andrasik.
“Ultimately, I believe we should not declare emergencies where none exist,” said Andrasik. “I am asking as your constituent that the Emergency Declaration be rescinded, that the county Legislature and related committees be completely transparent about the progress and content of the emergency planning you are undertaking and to actively seek and accept the assistance of agencies and individuals from throughout the county willing to join that process to bring it to completion more quickly and with an eye towards the amount of compassion and empathy that is brought to bear in the process.”
The Executive Order prohibits municipal programs from housing illegal migrants and asylum seekers. It also prohibits any hotel, short-term rental, and motel in the county from entering into a contract to house them or risk daily fines of $2,000 per asylum seeker, per-day. Church says housing has always been a problem for the county.
“We have a difficult time housing Yates County residents who are homeless,” added Church. “So, we don’t have enough housing for our Yates County homeless people. It’s a big challenge and all of that has to be looked at, fairly.”
The latest Executive Order expires on Friday.