Oswego County issues emergency order related to migrant crisis

Bans the transport, housing of migrants without license, written permission

News release

OSWEGO, NY — Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup issued an Emergency Order Wednesday that bars local entities from engaging in the transport or housing of migrants or asylum seekers without a license and/or written permission from the county.

The Emergency Order follows an emergency declaration issued Monday in response to New York City’s attempts to transport and house migrants and asylum seekers in other areas of the state without regard to available resources and community impacts. Oswego County is one of several New York counties that have issued emergency declarations in response to an influx of migrants entering the US following the end of pandemic-era restrictions on border crossings known as Title 42.

Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a statewide emergency declaration Tuesday in response to the influx of migrants, and the governor’s office on Wednesday notified Oswego County officials that local sites were being scouted as potential locations to house migrants. County officials are concerned that the potential arrival of migrants and asylum seekers could strain local resources and shift the financial burden to local taxpayers.

“With the ongoing crisis across our country and New York City’s recent attempts to transport and house migrants and asylum seekers in counties, we believe this is a necessary action to ensure the humane treatment of these individuals and safeguard our taxpayers from shouldering the economic and social burden of controversial policies from Washington, Albany and New York City,” Chairman Weatherup said. “We empathize with the plight of migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom came here because of misguided policies that welcomed them without considering the potential outcome, but we cannot
ask the taxpayers of Oswego County to pay for transportation, housing and other costs.”
Emergency Order 2023-01 temporarily bans municipalities, businesses and other entities in Oswego County from contracting with outside entities for, or engaging in, the transport or housing of migrants or asylum seekers without written permission from Chairman Weatherup.

Owners of hotels, motels and multi-unit housing in the county are expressly prohibited from contracting or engaging with external municipalities for the purpose of providing housing or accommodations for migrants and asylum seekers without a license from the Oswego County Public Health Department.

To obtain such a license, any contract must adhere to several guidelines, including ensuring migrants or asylum seekers will be returned to a location outside Oswego County within 15 days. Any municipality wishing to house migrants in the county must also demonstrate ample funding to cover the full cost of the stay and any other needs of the migrants or asylum seekers, and outside entities must agree to cover any costs incurred by Oswego County and provide proof of a performance bond for the licensing conditions.

Under the Emergency Order, the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office may issue appearance tickets for any violations. Violations of the order can result in a Class B misdemeanor and civil penalties of up to $2,000 for each individual housed in violation of the order.

Weatherup said the influx of migrants and asylum seekers is a national crisis and a wide-ranging plan needs to be developed that takes counties’ resources and capacity into consideration.

“This cannot be solved at the county level,” he said. “We do not have the resources, capacity or authority to provide a solution. Our state and federal governments need to step up.”

The Emergency Declaration and Emergency Order will ensure Oswego County is properly compensated for any costs incurred if migrants are housed in the county.

The Emergency Order issued Wednesday is in effect for a period of five days, ending May 20. Weatherup said the order would likely be extended as officials assess the ongoing situation.