Monday, July 24, 2023

New York’s migrant lawsuit against Schuyler County dismissed.

New York City/Watkins Glen (July 19)--A state Supreme Court Justice has thrown out New York City’s lawsuit against Schuyler County over the county’s May state of emergency related the possible relocation of migrant asylum seekers within the state.

On Wednesday (July 19, 2023), Justice Lyle Frank granted Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman’s motion to dismiss the case for a failure by the city to state a cause of action against the county.

In doing so, Frank agreed with Getman that the city’s case against the county was “non-justiciable” and that the city’s arguments for continuing the lawsuit were “speculative and without merit.”

Attorneys from New York City’s 850-lawyer Department of Law had argued that Schuyler County continued to oppose the city's use of hotels in its communities to provide temporary housing assistance to asylum seekers during the statewide migrant emergency, despite the county’s emergency order having expired.

The decision comes a day after Getman traveled to New York City for oral argument before Frank on the motion.

Getman said he was relieved but not surprised.

“We were likely to succeed on a number of our claims, including mootness, arguments that the city lacked standing against Schuyler County and that the lawsuit was brought in an improper forum,” he said.

In May, Schuyler County Legislature Chair Carl Blowers issued a local state of emergency for ten days that prohibited municipal programs from housing illegal migrants or asylum seekers. It also prevented any hotel, short-term rental and motel in the county from entering into a contract to house them. It was issued in response to plans by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to send asylum seekers to other areas of the state. Blowers’ order expired May 21.

In June, New York City sued Schuyler County and more than 30 municipalities and local leaders throughout the state, alleging the emergency orders illegally obstructed the city's efforts to relocate migrants upstate. The suit asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate the emergency orders on claims that they were unconstitutional. It also sought to prohibit the municipalities from taking steps that "restrict or frustrate" the city’s efforts to address the statewide emergency, which Gov. Kathy Hochul declared on May 9.

Judge Frank’s decision applies to Schuyler County only, Getman said. The other municipalities’ motions are expected to be addressed in separate orders.

According to Getman, the city has approximately thirty days to appeal Frank’s decision.

A complete copy of the Schuyler County Attorney’s Memorandum of Law supporting dismissal is here.

A copy of Frank’s decision is available here.