Stefanik, Gray call for policy changes for migrants

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - A surge of migrants on the northern border draws criticism from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

In a statement released Wednesday, Stefanik criticized Governor Hochul’s “sanctuary state” policies and urged Democratic lawmakers to ratify the House Republicans’ Secure the Border Act which would tighten restrictions on immigration.

House Republicans passed the Secure the Border Act in May but it has yet to go any further in Congress.

In the statement, Stefanik cited a tweet by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief Robert Garcia.

In it, he cited a major influx of border protection encounters in the so-called Swanton Sector which encompasses parts of the north country and the area west through Vermont - a nearly a 1,300 percent increase since 2020.

In the Buffalo Sector, which includes Jefferson County, the numbers have not increased in that time period.

State Assemblyman Scott Gray agrees with Stefanik in saying policies should change. He believes that New York City’s status as a sanctuary city is spurring immigration, even in the north country.

“They’re receiving 10,000 migrants a month in New York City. We just can’t sustain that type of influx,” said Gray (R. - 116th District). ) “We can’t solve the problem if they are just going to allow people to settle into New York City unchecked or anything.”

He says he’d rather see a stronger screening process for migrants in the interest of public health and crime prevention

“We know they’re not vetted coming through. We don’t know about their criminal background or public health background. We have to have a process in place,” said Gray.

On Thursday, Governor Hochul was asked by the CBS affiliate in Albany about New York’s sanctuary status. She stated that policy has been in place since 1981 and it wasn’t intended for the scenario they’re in now.

She stressed the importance of helping migrants find jobs to better integrate into society.

She also said her administration has been working diligently on what is a complicated situation and that her strategy will be announced next Friday.