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New York Lawmakers to Sue to Block Migrant Housing at Federal Airfield

Floyd Bennett Field, Art Deco building of former main terminal and control tower, airfield-side facade. ARK NEYMAN | Shutterstock.com
Floyd Bennett Field, Art Deco building of former main terminal and control tower, airfield-side facade. ARK NEYMAN | Shutterstock.com

By: Christian Wade | The Center Square contributor

A bipartisan group of New York lawmakers has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the use of a federally owned airfield in Brooklyn to house asylum-seekers.

The lawsuit, filed by four Democrats, a Republican congresswoman and several Staten Island residents in the state Superior Court, asks a judge to block New York City from using Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field or any other federally owned site in the Gateway National Recreation Area to provide temporary housing for migrants.

In the 48-page complaint, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have contributed to the influx of migrants by declaring themselves "sanctuary" jurisdictions that don't cooperate with immigration crackdowns and public announcements that migrants would get housing, food, health care and other support.

"In short, this problem is to a very large extent one of the defendants' own making," they wrote. "Now in an attempt to manage the problem, defendants have turned to violating the law and placing undue burdens upon communities which are ill-suited to withstand the strains of new non-indigenous populations being placed on them."

The litigants argue that the financial impact on New York City and other municipalities could "go broke" by providing shelter and other necessities to the migrants.

"More likely, however, is that the taxpayers, including the plaintiffs herein, will pay for this undue burden via higher taxes," the complaint states.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-NY, representing Staten Island, is among the lawmakers who signed the lawsuit. She called the Biden administration's decision to use Floyd Bennett Field as a migrant shelter a "grave misuse" of federal lands.

"Turning our federal parks into encampments for unvetted migrants from all over the world is unfair to surrounding communities and the taxpayers being forced to foot the bill," she said in a statement. "We are using every legal and legislative tool at our disposal to stop the Biden, Hochul and Adams Administrations from taking more open space from our citizens."

Malliotakis and other Republican lawmakers have urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to "end these senseless policies" and called on Democrats in the U.S. Senate to pass a border security bill approved by the House earlier this year "to end this out of control crisis once and for all."

New York City has seen an influx of more than 113,000 asylum seekers over the past year and a surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border. The surge coincided with the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 policy that required migrants to stay in Mexico while requesting asylum, which expired in May.

Hochul and Adams have pressed Biden to provide more federal funding to address the "humanitarian" crisis and fast-track work authorization for migrants.

A decades-old law requires New York to provide shelter, food and other basic necessities to homeless individuals, regardless of their immigration status.

Related Story: NYC Migrants Forced to Sleep Outdoors as Shelters Hit Full Capacity, Local Politicians Hit Panic Button

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