From the Office of Wappinger Supervisor
Dr. Richard L. Thurston
May 24, 2023
Dear Wappinger Residents,
A humanitarian crisis is at our doorsteps. For too many decades, national and state leaders have failed to address the growing refugee immigration challenges with decisive legislative action. Unfortunately, such inaction has thrown our County and local communities into the need to take emergency actions.
Yesterday, our County Executive, William F.X. O’Neill, discussed current plans and actions to address these challenges during an afternoon press conference in Fishkill, and a subsequent conference call with Dutchess County Supervisors, Mayors. Representing Wappinger, I participated in both events.
I have repeatedly emphasized and advocated that there do exist potential policies and practices that Washington congressional representatives can adopt to address the core issues. But, unapproved busing without any forewarning or communication with Dutchess County’s leaders IS NOT one such way. I do not condone the actions of Mayor Adams in busing homeless adults or minor individuals to any community in Dutchess County or to any of our neighboring counties. And, I fully support County Executive O’Neill’s position and actions taken throughout this crisis including ongoing litigation brought by the County.
Thanks to our County’s legal effort in the Dutchess County Supreme Court, Judge Maria Rosa granted its request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to bar the New York City Mayor’s Office and Department of Homeless Services from sending/relocating any additional migrant asylum seekers to Dutchess County. The TRO is in effect until June 20th as the County seeks a more permanent injunction. The TRO mandates a number of requirements on New York City to reduce the risks of the relocated individuals from being a burden on our communities. The TRO comes on the heels of 2 Executive Orders and a State of Emergency declaration issued by our County Executive, all three of which I also strongly endorse.
Both I and our Town’s other elected officials will not only stay in regular contact with but also work closely with Dutchess County officials to ensure that New York City complies with the TRO requirements, including that New York City provide basic identification information to Dutchess County.
Nevertheless, as County Executive O’Neill has noted, “we must be realistic and recognize that these (86) individuals will be in the County for an indefinite period of time and may need to be assimilated into our community in that event.” All of us want “to ensure that process is as safe and effective as possible for all of us.” Accordingly, during the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to the members of our inter-faith community to come up with plans that would prepare our ability to work with the County Executive on these and other issues that may arise from time-to-time.
In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you have any questions or concerns:
RThurston@townofwappingerny.gov or 845-297-2744.