STATEMENT: Asylum Seeker Emergency Orders

Alex Dery Snyder May 30, 2023


Statement from Empire Justice Center President and CEO Kristin Brown on New York counties issuing emergency orders to prevent housing of asylum seekers:  


As a not-for-profit law firm working with immigrants on a daily basis, Empire Justice Center strongly supports efforts to provide resources, shelter and work authorization for asylum seekers. Welcoming immigrant communities is fundamental to the foundation, values, and future of our nation, helping to form our identity, culture, economy, and continued innovations.


As such, we condemn the emergency orders being  issued by various towns and counties in an effort to keep asylum seekers out. Like generations of immigrants before them, asylum seekers come to this country seeking a better life and often are escaping horrific conditions such as political persecution, war, gang violence, or violence based on their gender, gender identity, or sexuality. They have been vetted by the federal government upon entry. More importantly, we know that dehumanizing policies and language result in violence, create distrust and cause serious harm to impacted individuals and damage to the fabric of our communities.


We call on all levels of government — cities and towns, counties, the state, and the federal government – to work together to identify the needs, resources, and planning required to be able to receive asylum seekers as efficiently as possible, with dignity and compassion. We also encourage all levels of government to be mindful of the need for interpreters and translators, as well as culturally competent services. Language justice is a human right and a legal right; it facilitates communication and builds trusting relationships. Any failure to provide those services adds additional strain for the service providers on the front lines.


We applaud Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins for the historic investment of $63 million dollars for the Office of New Americans for legal and essential services that was in the state budget. We encourage the executive to ensure the funding is put to its intended use as quickly as possible.


And finally, we echo the governor’s calls for the federal government to expedite the process to authorize asylum seekers to work legally in the United States. Every day we see how eager our clients are to begin working – many literally counting down the days. Providing tools and resources will streamline asylum seekers’ transition to their new life, including being able to support themselves and contribute fully to their new communities.