With Title 42 ending, St. Lawrence County declares state of emergency

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 12:47 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - St. Lawrence County declared a state of emergency Friday in case there’s a surge in migrants with the ending of Title 42.

Title 42 expired at midnight. It allowed U.S. officials to turn away people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Officials say with its 78-mile border with Canada and border crossings in Massena and Ogdensburg, the county could see an influx of people seeking shelter, something the county is not equipped to handle.

“Early reports show the potential stress that the ending of Title 42 will create the need, in this northern border county, upon the many forms of services that will be required to handle whatever situation may arise,” county Legislature chair David Forsythe said.

“Many of our public health, law enforcement, and emergency services partners have been preparing for the various scenarios likely to occur,” Forsythe said. “Our hope is that our Federal Government will be available to help, when called upon and as potential need may arise.”

“The expiration of Title 42 has created a possible humanitarian situation with the potential of an unknown number of immigrants crossing our northern border into St. Lawrence County,” Social Services commissioner Joe Seeber said. “The responsibility for addressing the needs of individuals and families entering through our northern border crossings falls on the counties.”

This comes in the wake of a similar declaration by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, along with an executive order that gives the state flexibility to provide resources to help local governments support people seeking asylum in the U.S.

New York City has seen a large influx of migrants since April 2022, even before the end of Title 42.

St. Lawrence County’s emergency declaration will be reevaluated on June 10.