By Katabella Roberts
Riverhead in Suffolk County, New York, declared a state of emergency on May 16 in an effort to prevent an influx of illegal immigrants from being sent to the small town following the expiration of Title 42.
Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar signed the emergency declaration after reports emerged that officials from New York City were arranging to transport immigrants to a number of hotels and motels in the town.
According to a statement from Aguiar’s office, the order was signed “based on information received and in response to reports that the New York City Department of Homeless Services has, or will be arranging for the transportation and relocation of undocumented migrants and/or asylum seekers to hotels or motels within the Town of Riverhead.”
Aguiar told News 12 Long Island that New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, had recently sent out an advisory to all housing facilities in Suffolk County stating that the city would pay for the housing of immigrants for 12 months if the facilities agreed to accommodate them.
The advisory reportedly stated that the city would sign a contract with the facilities that agreed to house the immigrants.
Aguiar told the publication that three facilities in the small town of roughly 33,539 people had agreed to house immigrants and offered to sign the contract.
In response, Aguiar—who previously worked as a detective sergeant for the NYPD Counter Terrorism Division—declared a state of emergency to stave off what she anticipates would be thousands of immigrants heading to the small town, leaving it overburdened.
“It’s going to tax our schools that are already overwhelmed, it’ll probably increase the crime rate because these individuals are going to be hungry in the street and they need shelter,” Aguiar told News 12 Long Island. “It’s going to tax police; it’s going to tax the hospitals. The infrastructure component, we don’t have it.”
Under Aguiar’s state of emergency, all facilities across the town including hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfast facilities, homeless shelters, and lodgings are banned from accepting immigrants.
Facilities that violate the order will be “dealt with in the courts,” Aguiar told News 12.
Separately, Aguiar told Patch that, compared to surrounding townships on the East End and throughout Suffolk County, “Riverhead has done more than its share when it comes to housing the homeless, providing services, and offering affordable housing and our resources.”
“Taxpayers simply cannot withstand further demand on our public services,” she said, adding that the health and safety of Riverhead residents is her top priority.
Aguiar also took aim at the Biden administration for failing to anticipate the huge volume of immigrants that would overwhelm the southern border when Title 42—which allowed Border Patrol agents to turn illegal immigrants back to Mexico immediately over public health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic—expired.
She said the federal government has “failed to defend the sovereignty of the nation, resulting in thousands of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the U.S. border virtually unchecked.”
Adams to Send Migrants From NYC
“There is nothing humanitarian about a sanctuary city sending busloads of people to a rural town that does not have the infrastructure to care for them, especially since social services funding is not available to undocumented individuals,” Aguiar added.
The state of emergency in Riverhead comes after Adams reportedly held a call with more than 100 state leaders on May 11 seeking support from officials to help house thousands of immigrants that were expected to flood the southern border after Title 42 expired.
In the past week alone, some 4,300 illegal immigrants have arrived in New York City, according to New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. That brings the total number of immigrants currently in the city’s care to over 41,500.
However, multiple counties across the state, already struggling with limited resources, are pushing back against housing immigrants.
Earlier this month, Rockland and Orange counties filed a lawsuit against the Adams administration to stop him from transferring the illegal immigrants to their jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told a press conference Monday that the county will not participate in any sanctuary programs, adding that it is not the responsibility of local government.
“It is the responsibility of the federal government to have a national policy,” he said. “To invite people in who are undocumented, not knowing who they are or why they are here, I think is very faulty and something we do not endorse in Nassau.”