Migrants will be able to stay at a temporary shelter at a former school campus on Staten Island, at least for now, a court ruled Friday afternoon, overturning a judge’s decision from hours earlier that had temporarily halted plans to house migrants there.
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella and state Assemblyman Michael Tannousis confirmed the court’s decision early Friday evening, which reversed Judge Wayne Ozzi’s earlier decision to issue a temporary restraining order in a suit from multiple Staten Island lawmakers seeking to prevent the city from housing migrants at the former St. John Villa Academy in Arrochar.
What You Need To Know
- A court ruled Friday afternoon that migrants can house on Staten Island at a temporary shelter, for now, overturning a judge’s decision from hours earlier that had temporarily halted plans to house migrants there.
- The lawsuit’s filing came days after protesters began gathering at the site to oppose the shelter, which Mayor Eric Adams’ office previously said could house 300 people
- The city is currently caring for more than 59,000 asylum seekers, less than 2% of whom are being housed on Staten Island, City Hall said Friday
“We are extremely disappointed by the decision to reverse Judge Ozzi’s ruling today,” Tannousis wrote in a statement issued on behalf of all of the Republican elected officials who are plaintiffs in the case. “We will continue to fight in the Court and in every available avenue to ensure this shelter is closed down.”
The group of lawmakers who filed the lawsuit against the city and state of New York includes Fossella, Tannousis, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, City Council members Joe Borelli and David Carr, state Sen. Andrew Lanza and Assembly member Michael Reilly. Staten Island resident Scott Herkert is also a plaintiff.
The suit was filed Friday morning. In the filing, the group claimed housing asylum seekers at the former Catholic school campus, which is owned by the city, would flout local zoning restrictions, violate rules requiring public comment, create a “nuisance” for nearby residents and “unduly [burden] Staten Island with the costs of the ‘right to shelter’ mandate.”
The lawsuit’s filing came days after protesters began gathering at the site to oppose the shelter, which Mayor Eric Adams’ office previously said could house 300 people.
At a news conference announcing the suit Friday morning, Fossella said he believed the litigation spoke “for everybody across Staten Island.”
“This is the last place we want to be, both literally and figuratively. Literally, we don’t want to be here, because we don’t want to see this building converted to a migrant shelter,” he said. “In the middle of this beautiful neighborhood, just a few feet from two Catholic schools — an elementary school and an all-girls Catholic school — and two blocks from another elementary school.”
“The people of Arrochar didn’t create the problem,” he added. “The government created this problem.”
The next court date is Sept. 6, officials said.
The city is currently caring for more than 59,000 asylum seekers, less than 2% of whom are being housed on Staten Island, City Hall said Friday.
“Whether or not you have any place to put them is not my problem,” Herkert said Friday. “You created the problem and then you wanna fix it by putting it in my backyard?”
City officials have opened more than 200 shelter sites across the five boroughs as part of their effort to temporarily house new arrivals, according to City Hall.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday extended an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to the influx of migrants in New York.
In a statement, she said the order “allows us to continue our robust response to this unprecedented crisis as we work to provide shelter and humanitarian aid to these individuals.”