The only county in western New York that was accepting migrants from New York City is no longer doing so after the county executive expressed safety concerns for the community.
Eric County Executive Mark Poloncarz referenced two sex crimes involving migrants in his decision to request New York City no longer send migrants to the county. Poloncarz said Mayor Eric Adams agreed to the pause.
In one incident in early August, a migrant at a hotel being used as a shelter in Buffalo raped his partner in front of their child, police said.
New York State brought in the National Guard to increase security at the hotel.
Two weeks later, a migrant at a different hotel in Buffalo allegedly sexually abused a shelter worker.
The supervisor of the town where the hotels are located is considering legal action to remove the migrants from both hotels. Some of the migrants have been moved to Amherst.
“Two serious violent crimes are alleged to have occurred in two weeks are two too many,” Poloncarz said.
In May, Poloncarz said prohibiting migrants from coming into any area was “morally repugnant.”
More than 500 migrants have been sent from New York City to the Buffalo area.
On August 12, shortly after the two alleged sex crimes, Poloncarz held a press conference announcing Erie County would no longer accept migrants from the city and that the Adams administration agreed to the pause.
“Unfortunately, there is no way we believe to make the program as its presently run sustainable without some significant changes,” he said.
Eyewitness News attempted several times to confirm with Adams’ press secretaries that NYC has agreed to a pause with Erie County, since the mayor has said – as recently as last week – he believes every county in the state should be helping with the migrant crisis. They did not provide us with a response.
Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne traveled to Buffalo to see the situation for herself.
She interviewed several migrants who told her they had been in NYC for only a few days or a week before being bused to Buffalo.
Thorne also spoke with Anna Mongo with Jericho Road Community Health Center in Buffalo – one of the non-profits helping with the migrant response.
Mongo said the pause is much needed.
“I would say right now is the first time we’re moving out of sort of just completely being responsive to sort of urgent issues coming our way and trying to stay on top of that and we’re moving out of that and into real case management where people kind of get settled in, get their schedule, kind of get their routine of what daily life is going to look like,” she said.
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