The negative effects of open borders and unchecked illegal immigration are not going away anytime soon. Recently, Governor Kathy Hochul committed another $2.4 billion in her Executive Budget for the migrant crisis, on top of $1.9 billion the state has already allocated in emergency funds. This comes after multiple Northeast municipalities took steps to curb migrants from entering their communities, through broad notification orders and lawsuits against bus companies providing transportation. In the meantime, migrants keep streaming into the country daily by the thousands, all illegally.
Here in Albany County, officials took a similar stance, mirroring what New York City Mayor Eric Adams and many others are realizing: ‘if we do nothing, they will continue to come, and middle-class taxpayers will foot the bill.’
The debate over this national emergency is not about being “pro-immigrant” or “anti-immigrant.” It’s about our identity as a nation founded upon the Rule of Law. Countless naturalized immigrants become citizens by following the law – and they become hardworking, valuable members of our communities the right way. It’s at the core of what makes America an exceptional nation. As a way of planning and tracking this evolving situation, your readers may remember my Republican colleagues and I last year proposed bills to provide fiscal accounting costs and public notification of the migrant crisis in our communities; our colleagues across the aisle voted unanimously against that legislation.
In 2024, added expenses we were unable to plan for present a new reality in our County and State. The cost of this federal emergency equals billions in taxpayer dollars at the state and local levels, and hundreds of thousands from Albany County and North Colonie school taxpayers for migrant education, healthcare and transportation.
There’s a transparency aspect to this too. The idea that citizens and government should be aware of when, where and how many migrants arrive in a town near you was only a few months ago decried by my Democrat colleagues as “unacceptable” on the basis of “privacy” concerns. Yet this is now effectively the law of the land in New York City, Albany County and various other localities across the Northeast.
The public may ask, what changed? Did Democrats reject the idea of accountable governance simply because it was sponsored by Republican and Conservative voices? Are the crises at the border and in our communities too difficult for self-titled “sanctuary city” advocates to face head-on? Is any Democrat in Albany County willing to tell President Joe Biden point-blank: “it’s well past time to close the borders”?
These are questions worth asking our local, state and federal representatives. New York government is under near complete one-party control, so it’s a simple task to find those who should be held accountable.
We often hear the only way to solve immigration is at the federal level. That may be true, but it’s also true that states and localities have been forced to bear the burdens. I appreciate some of my Democratic colleagues beginning to understand this reality. There are still many who refuse to stand up for their constituents, even though their taxes fund our government salaries.
We need to ask ourselves how much is too much, and when is enough enough? Billions of state tax dollars squandered on preventable circumstances, and hundreds of thousands in school and county tax dollars spent on free migrant bus rides, education, welfare and healthcare. Monies now unavailable for New York citizens, schoolchildren, seniors, Veterans and vital community programs.
Stopping the migrant crisis may start at the top, but it will only end if the voters of our state and nation elect representatives that put them first.
Albany County Legislator, District 19
This story was featured on page 4 of the January 24th , 2024 print edition of the Spotlight