By Holly Crocco
The public weighed in on County Executive Kevin Byrne’s proposed local law essentially banning hotels and motels from housing asylum seekers being sent north from New York City during the July 5 Putnam County Legislature meeting – after the Legislature voted 8-1 to enact the law.
Legislator Nancy Montgomery of Philipstown, the only Democrat on the board, was the lone “no” vote.
Judy Allen of Putnam Valley called the law “alarmism,” and said it brings the mind the story of “Chicken Little” and “needlessly stoking fear in people.”
“Don’t form incorrect solutions from insufficient data, don’t stoke fear in others without good cause to do so, don’t take others’ words for things – especially when those others are making extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence,” she said.
Peter Preuss of Mahopac thanked the lawmakers for “protecting” residents.
“These are not asylum seekers, these are financial illegal immigrants,” he said. “Millions have entered my country. Millions. They are getting Section 8, WIC, food stamps, more than my pension – some get about $6,000 a month and send their remittances back home.”
Cindy Trimble of Philipstown also thanked the Legislature, “for putting the residents and taxpayers of Putnam County first by not allowing any other outside municipality, in this case New York City, to dump their problems that they cause on us, creating an economic burden and public safety risk.”
Pastor Jennifer Boyd of Trinity Lutheran Church in Brewster asked if the community has lost its sense of humanity.
“People are not illegal,” she said. “They are people. They’re humans… They are coming here for the same reason our ancestors came – for better opportunities. They are not criminals. Sure, there may be some of them that are, but oftentimes they are families who are coming for better opportunities, just as my ancestors did. Escaping often war, violence, corruption.”
Boyd said we don’t deport criminals from our own country.
“We treat them with humanity… to try to help them to have new lives,” she said. “That’s what we do. We’re humans. And when we stop treating each other as that, we become inhuman ourselves.”
James Hayes of Southeast said the county simply cannot afford to house immigrants, despite any funding that may be promised from the government.
“It’s all about economics,” he said. “Putnam County and the rest of the United States does not have the economics or the economy that we did decades ago. We cannot support this influx of illegal aliens, or any immigrants. We just do not have the infrastructure to support it.”