ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) -Asylum seekers have been arriving in New York City since August of 2022. From then on, almost 100,000 refugees have entered the Empire State with around 56,000 still in the city’s 194 shelters and nearby streets. With around 44,000 migrants coming to other counties, local outreach groups describe New York as a welcoming state. With immigrants making up a quarter of the current population, asylees have been working towards finding their place in the area.
Albany County residents found themselves welcoming in asylum seekers the last weekend of May to their surprise along with Colonie Town Supervisor Peter Crummey. According to Crummey, he was not made aware of the situation for the Sure Stay Best Western until Friday, May 26. At the time, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan explained even though there was a change of plans, talk of asylees coming to the area was months old.
“That changed very, very late. I think it was in the evening that I learned that it was actually only 24 individuals and that they were going to go to the hotel in Colonie,” stated Mayor Sheehan.
From Memorial Day weekend to late July, the number of migrants in Albany County had rose to around 550 according to the Deputy Minority Leader of the Albany County Legislature, Paul Burgdorf. Local groups such as the Afghan American Community Center took time to help the asylees, from one immigrant to another.
“As long as you get, you have to give back to the people. That’s the great culture of America and being an immigrant. I was in the same situation,” described member of the AACC, Mir Sadat.
Just like in Colonie, Rotterdam has brought in migrants. The Super 8 Motel in Schenectady County became a revolving door July 18, evicting guests before the asylum seekers checked in.
“When we got here, they [county employees] went inside and they were told that the hotel was closing,” said evicted guest, Rhonda Flanagan. “Upper management told management here, ‘No guests as of Wednesday. Everyone is to be out by Wednesday,’” explained Rotterdam Senior Building Inspector Jim Keith.
On scene, no reason was given as to why this was happening. NEWS10 later found out the motel has a one-year agreement to house the migrants. Both the Town of Rotterdam and Schenectady County have held public meetings to address community concerns. Back in Albany, County Legislators will vote on a bill August 14 to address concerns over resources available to asylees and residents. “Which would require Albany County to assemble periodic information on the costs of the migrant and homeless populations on our public programs, stated Burgdorf.
NEWS10 has most recently reported on the Allies for Justice organizing a donation drive August 4 for asylum seekers in Schenectady County. That event brought in over a thousand items, the team calling it a wild success.