Legislation looks to bar migrants from staying in SUNY dorms; others call for compassion

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 4:18 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - Republican state senators have drafted legislation to prevent the state from housing migrants in SUNY dorms.

It’s the cost of supporting a migrant population that worries the GOP lawmakers.

With talk of using SUNY campuses to house people, lawmakers, including north country state Senator Dan Stec, who represents both Canton and Potsdam, have legislation to prohibit dorms from housing migrants.

“If New York City, home to millions in recipient of an extra billion dollars of state aid can’t handle the influx of migrants, there’s no way SUNY campuses and upstate communities in New York are equipped for this,” said Stec (R. - 45th District).

But there are local groups that will help if needed.

Rev. James Galasinski with Canton’s Unitarian Universalist Church says this debate is too often promoting fear instead of calling for compassion.

“I think this is a clear thing that we need to look past difference and to lean into love instead of fear,” he said.

He says others in the community would help a neighbor if needed.

“If immigrants were in need, I would help. I would try to help and I can and I know there are members of this congregation that would and I know there’s other clergy that I’m in close contact with that we would share resources and work to do what we can,” said Galasinski.

Florence Wright of Helping Hands of Potsdam believes her Christian non-profit group is ready to stand up and help too. It already provides free lunches to the community.

“We have plenty of food and our people are very generous about donations and stuff and, yeah, I think we are prepared to help them,” she said.

As for Senator Stec, he says passing the cost of what he calls a crisis onto taxpayers is unacceptable, and wants state dorms to be used for academic purposes only.