STATEMENT: COMMUNITY VOICES HEARD WELCOMES ASYLUM SEEKERS AND CONDEMNS DUTCHESS AND ORANGE COUNTIES’ RESPONSES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 25, 2023 (BEACON & NEWBURGH, NY) – As tenants and community organizers in Dutchess and Orange Counties, we welcome asylum seekers to our communities. We are disturbed and disheartened by Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil’s executive order threatening civil action against private property owners who offer emergency shelter to people legally seeking asylum in the county. We are also deeply disappointed in Orange County’s lawsuit and temporary restraining order that bars additional migrants from the county, and the complete lie that homeless veterans were displaced by migrants. Asylum seekers are not a threat to our communities. The real threat to Dutchess and Orange County residents is the longstanding failure of the County governments to address the housing crisis, ensure living wages, and nurture healthy communities. The Counties’ behavior does not reflect the view of the majority of Dutchess and Orange County residents, who want to help each other in times of need and who are generous neighbors. "The attitudes expressed by our Dutchess County Executive demonstrates contempt for people seeking safety and asylum," said CVH Dutchess County member Tina Bernstein. "This is the same administration that has done nothing for the many residents in our communities who are rent burdened, intimidated by their landlords threatening them with unfair evictions, and being pushed out of their communities by luxury development and rising prices. These attitudes and actions are meant to divide us, rather than building necessary bridges to sustain and strengthen connections between working people from diverse backgrounds in our communities." "Empathy is a precondition for democracy. Our County leaders must have empathy – not contempt – for asylum seekers and immigrants, and welcome them to our community," said CVH Dutchess County member Arthur H. Camins. We applaud elected officials and community leaders who are standing up for asylum seekers. When immigrants and tenants are under attack, all of our elected leaders must fight back.