In an all too familiar saga, Suffolk County officials have been decrying the notion of welcoming migrants seeking asylum. Since New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced that he would be sending migrants to neighboring counties last month, the Suffolk County Legislature has been doing all it can, including hiring special counsel, to make sure it’s not this county that has to welcome them.
We respect those who feel concerned about the traditional anti-immigration talking points, such as fears of drugs and crime. It’s important to remember that the data says the opposite. A study done by the U.S. Department of Justice in December 2020 found that “relative to undocumented immigrants, U.S.-born citizens are over two times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, two and a half times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over four times more likely to be arrested for property crimes.”
In essence, the vast majority of migrants, who are usually coming from desperate circumstances, are doing nothing more than trying to stabilize their lives and protect their families. Asylum is a legal process, and those seeking asylum have the right to have their cases heard.
We have all seen the footage on the news media of the often-brutal journeys migrants make from their home countries to land in the United States. If we put ourselves in their shoes, it wouldn’t be the first choice for most of us to, in some cases, walk hundreds of miles from our homes. These people are desperate.
It’s been proven time and time again immigrants benefit this country, state and county. Here at TBR News Media, our ongoing “American Dream” series highlights just a few local business owners, community leaders and neighbors who are immigrants themselves, making stellar and invaluable contributions to our towns and villages each and every day.
This debate also comes at a time when we have a labor shortage. Elderly residents are struggling to find quality home care, and parents quality child care. Since the pandemic, a number of teachers and health care workers have left their professions. Restaurants need helpers, farmers need agricultural workers and so on.
Local politicians have expressed their concerns about the ability to house migrants and provide for them. While we acknowledge these are real, practical concerns, we have found that most asylum seekers are not looking for handouts. Once we give them the tools to work, they will become assets, not burdens to the local economy.
Suffolk County could receive hundreds of people, able and willing to work. This would give us an incredible opportunity to harness new talents and ideas.