Legislators in Albany need to tackle the migrant crisis


New York City is home to many famous landmarks and attractions, such as Times Square, Wall Street and New York-style pizza. Yet what people associate with New York today is the migrant crisis, a growing and complex problem with statewide consequences.
Since the spring of 2022, more than 116,100 migrants have flooded into the state. The lack of planning by Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis and a strain on public resources. Our local communities are shouldering the burden of providing essential services such as health care, education and social services to migrants and their families, stretching their resources thin.
This crisis isn’t just a federal issue; it affects every corner of our state. From Long Island to Buffalo, from the five boroughs to the North Country, its consequences are felt by our citizens, our communities and our local governments. The humanitarian challenges and security concerns stemming from the influx of migrants at our borders and throughout our state demand immediate and comprehensive attention.
We must convene a special session of the State Legislature to address this crisis, and act now to protect the interests of our state and its residents. Protecting our communities and upholding the principles of compassion and humanitarianism are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, neither of these standards is currently being met.
The Assembly’s Republican conference has been calling for these actions for several months, but has been met with silence. Even more troublesome, federal and state leaders continue to dance around the problem with backward approaches such as offering nearly a half-million Venezuelan migrants legal status and work permits. We don’t want immigrants sitting idly, but there must be a process in place to ensure that public safety and resources are maintained.

Assembly Republicans proposed legislation that would do so, including adopting a resolution calling on the federal government to provide financial assistance to the state, and to reverse the Executive Order of 2017 that prohibits law enforcement from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration law. It would also end New York’s status as an illegal immigration sanctuary, and require the state to register all migrants in order to assist with background checks and monitor refugees seeking asylum here.
The 2023-24 state budget allocated $1 billion to New York City for migrant humanitarian assistance. However, this allocation lacks clear guidance or oversight regarding its specific utilization. It is crucial that leaders from across the state know where these funds are going. My bill, A.7508, a two-pronged effort to ensure transparency, would require the governor to submit a report to the Legislature every 30 days detailing how state and federal funds are being spent on humanitarian aid for migrants, and require the comptroller to audit those funds every 30 days.
The need for this bill is evident, given recent revelations about DocGo, the private medical services company Adams partnered with to oversee activities at upstate hotels housing migrants. A state investigation into DocGo uncovered alarming problems, including the employment of at least 50 security guards — compensated at a staggering rate of $1,200 per day — working without proper licensing.
Convening a special session in Albany to address the ongoing migrant crisis isn’t just a necessity, it is our moral and civic duty as elected representatives of the people. We must put aside political differences and work together to find practical solutions to this complex issue. By doing so, we can uphold the values of compassion, security and economic stability that define our great state.

Ed Ra, who represents the 19th Assembly District, is the ranking Republican on the Assembly Ways & Means Committee.