The situation on our southern border is unsustainable


In between the presidential campaign, this week’s special election in the 3rd Congressional District and nightly news headlines, our nation’s border crisis has risen to the forefront of nightly dinner conversations. Local news coverage over the past several weeks has reported that migrant encampments have popped up on the Nassau-Queens border. Mostly recently, we watched in shock as migrants attacked New York City police officers.

The open southern border is clearly creating a crisis, and top New York City and state officials finally agree that the influx of migrants is unsustainable. Drugs are flowing into the United States at unprecedented rates, and human trafficking is exploiting thousands of victims. American cities are not equipped — physically or financially — to deal with this crisis, and neither are we.

We should always pride ourselves in being a nation made up of immigrants with diverse cultures. In the Town of Oyster Bay, we celebrate our diversity and recognize that what makes the town such an amazing place to live and raise a family is our commonality of wanting the best quality of life. Our nation has laws and a pathway to legal citizenship, yet too many public officials have turned a blind eye to those laws. While the majority of migrants come to our country in pursuit of the American dream, we can’t overlook the failed border policies that have allowed thousands of unvetted people to cross our borders and make their way to sanctuary cities, including New York.

Public policies have real consequences for taxpayers. For instance, sanctuary-city policies approved by the New York City Council, along with open-border policies approved by the Biden administration, have resulted in the arrival of more than 174,000 migrants in New York since the spring of 2022. In the city, including parts of Brooklyn and Queens, homeless migrants have impacted residential neighborhoods. Schools have struggled to accommodate a sudden influx of children. The increased demand for housing, health care and social services has put a significant burden on the city’s resources — and, by extension, taxpayers — potentially leading to a decline in the quality of life for residents and migrants alike.

Any strain on public services is a significant concern for New Yorkers. Our infrastructure, including the transportation, health care and education systems, is already under financial pressure because of the existing population. The sudden increase in demand for these services is leading to longer wait times, overcrowding, and a decline in the quality of care. This can negatively impact both residents and migrants who rely on safety-net services.

While we have empathy and compassion for those seeking to enter our nation, it is also crucial to address the potential security concerns associated with open borders. New York, as a global hub and a symbol of American values, must prioritize the safety and well-being of its residents. The lack of proper screening and vetting processes for incoming migrants has posed a risk to public safety, potentially allowing individuals with malicious intent to make it into the country undetected. This, coupled with a decline in the ability of those in law enforcement to appropriately protect American citizens, will lead to an unsafe, and likely catastrophic, situation.

Oyster Bay is a proud community made up of diverse people. We welcome those who enter our nation legally and follow our laws. Local media reports indicate that the migrant population on Long Island has increased by 20 percent in just the past two years, with more continuing to seek asylum here. An unlawful influx into our population will ultimately strain our economy and public services, as well as create challenges with social integration and security — all factors that must be carefully considered and immediately addressed by the federal government.

I’m thankful for County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s unwavering commitment to preventing Albany from relocating migrants to Nassau County. It is essential for lawmakers, on both the state and federal level, to secure our borders and repeal sanctuary-city policies. Comprehensive strategies must be developed to balance humanitarian efforts with the need to protect Americans’ well-being and interests.

Joseph Saladino is supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay.