Hochul deploys more National Guard personnel to support asylum seeker crisis

Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol.
Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday deployed an additional 150 members of the New York National Guard to support the ongoing response to the asylum seeker and migrant crisis.

Many of asylum seekers coming to New York from the southern border states are nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba.

In view of this new deployment, Hochul said the state will be able to assign 250 National Guard personnel the full-time responsibilities of case management professionals.

She said this deployment, along with the $50million state investment in case management thus far, will help asylum seekers and migrants file the appropriate paperwork to attain legal work status and exit taxpayer-funded shelters.

“It is critical that we help secure work authorization for asylum seekers and migrants in New York,” Gov. Hochul said. “We need to ensure individuals can navigate the paperwork necessary to get them established here so they can work and start making their American Dream a reality. Our National Guard members play a huge role in assisting in the process and we are grateful for their service.”

She said this deployment builds on the 1,900 National Guard personnel who are currently providing logistical and operational support to asylum seekers statewide.

Hochul said New York National Guard personnel are currently staffing 51 hotels and two New York City Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers.

In addition to the New York National Guard, the governor has directed other state resources to help Venezuelans and other asylum seekers and migrants submit the appropriate paperwork to speedily receive legal work status.

Working in partnership with federal and city officials, Hochul said New York is in the midst of a “Month of Action” in which more than 50 personnel from the federal Department of Homeland Security are in New York working to process work authorization paperwork.

She said this builds on an additional $20 million allocated to local nonprofits, $20 million allocated to help New York City with a casework surge through NYC Health + Hospitals, as well as $10 million for migrant legal services allocated in the FY24 Budget.

Earlier this month, White House officials announced certain individuals from Venezuela, who have continuously resided in the United States on or before Jul. 31, 2023, will be eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

This announcement followed more than a year of advocacy from Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and a broad coalition of New Yorkers “working to secure work authorization for asylum seekers and migrants, allowing them to exit the shelter system and begin living independently.”

Last month, Hochul directed the New York State Department of Labor to connect employers with newly-eligible asylum seekers and migrants who are on the path to receiving work authorizations.

More than 70 state personnel, representing 16 separate state agencies, have been surged to assist in this work authorization effort, the governor said.

She also announced the Department had launched a new portal enabling businesses to inform the state that they would welcome newly-authorized individuals into their workforce.

The Department also created a new registration process in which asylum seekers and migrants with work authorization can register for assistance.

Hochul said officials from the New York State Department of Labor and the United States Department of Labor will meet in the coming days to discuss opportunities for partnership and growth.

She said she has identified work authorization as the key factor to end this crisis.

She said she raised this issue with senior administration officials during her meeting at the White House three weeks ago, reiterating a request she made in a letter to President Joe Biden earlier that month.

The governor said she has supported New York City throughout this crisis, including committing more than $1.7 billion in state funding beginning with the FY24 Budget, deploying more than 2,000 members of the National Guard, and mobilizing state-owned land to be used as Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Efforts.

“New York State is working hard to assist NYC with the ongoing asylum seeker crisis,” said Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray. “Gov. Hochul has been focused on finding ways to help migrants and asylum seekers in NYC’s shelters leave shelter by resourcing and advocating for pathways to work authorization and legal services.

“There is more to be done to ensure migrants can be self-sufficient here in New York, and Gov. Hochul will continue to take every action available to ensure that happens.”

Major General Ray Shields said, “The members of the New York National Guard and our State Defense Forces look forward to playing a role in the efforts to help asylum seekers link with services they need to be successful, and find opportunities and jobs they need to be self-sufficient.”