A top upstate Dem official and previous vocal supporter of housing migrants there now says he will refuse additional resettlements — after a second local alleged sex assault involving an asylum-seeker.
The frustrated pol, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, added that the National Guard will start providing security at the three hotels-turned-migrant shelters in Cheektowaga in Erie within a day or two, after he learned the facilities are not safe, according to a weekend report.
Poloncarz said the county’s “trust and good faith has been betrayed,” including potentially by the New York City-hired firm paid hundreds of millions of dollars to oversee the relocation of migrants from the Big Apple to other areas.
The county exec said the company, DocGo, “may have interfered” with a Cheektowaga police investigation into the second assault case, which involves a hotel-worker victim.
“I demanded [New York City] Mayor [Eric] Adams pause all further transportation of asylum-seekers to our community until such time as we can resolve all security issues,” Poloncarz said during a Saturday press conference, according to Spectrum News.
“He agreed and informed me they will not send any additional persons to Erie County at this time,” the official said. “We also discussed the need for a new and improved security plan.”
About 540 asylum-seekers have been brought to Erie County to ease the Big Apple’s flood of migrants. Some local officials had already been calling for them to be removed from the hotels-turned-shelters, saying the migrants hadn’t been vetted properly in terms of safety and that the communities couldn’t handle the influx.
Last week, a migrant from Venezuela who was bussed from New York City to a Cheektowaga hotel was charged with raping a woman in front of a 3-year-old child at the site.
Then an asylum-seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was arrested Friday and is being charged with sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment after allegedly sexually assaulting an employee inside the Best Western hotel in Cheektowaga near Buffalo Airport.
“Erie County opened its arms to try to welcome these new Americans,” said Poloncarz — who in May scoffed at issuing a declaration of emergency as some other counties did to try to prevent the migrants being bussed in.
“Unfortunately we believe we can’t make the program, as it is presently run, sustainable without significant changes,” the county exec said Saturday.
“Our refugee agencies did their best to provide support and assistance. But our community’s trust and good faith has been betrayed,” he said.
The second migrant-hotel sex-assault victim was a 27-year-old woman from Buffalo who was working at the Best Western and employed by Platinum Community Care, one of the agencies providing services to the migrants, said Cheektowaga Police Department Chief Brian Gould.
“I’m asking for the immediate discontinued use of the Best Western hotel on Dingens Street,” Gould said Saturday. “The hotel is located in a residential neighborhood and is causing not only safety concerns to nearby residents but also quality-of-life issues.
“I’m calling for extra funding to cover overtime shifts so that we can increase police presence in the community around the hotels.”
A rep for the governor told The Post in a statementSunday, “Sexual assault is a horrific crime.
“The Governor is grateful to Erie County law enforcement for their work in this matter and has directed State personnel to provide all necessary support.”
As for DocGo, Hochul has already said her staff is looking into whether the company – which was awarded a massive $432 million contract by the Adams administration to relocate migrants upstate – has allegedly mistreated and misled asylum-seekers.
DocGo said in a statement to The Post on Sunday, “The safety and wellbeing of all employees and guests on site are paramount.
“We are providing support to the staff still on site and remain focused on the individual directly impacted. DocGo has fully cooperated with authorities throughout the investigation and will continue to do so.”
A rep for Adams said in a statement about Poloncarz’s move, “As we’ve been saying for months, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, having opened approximately 200 emergency sites to serve almost 100,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in our city.
“Every day, we receive hundreds of additional asylum seekers and we are out of space. New York City has done and will continue to do its part, but we need counties, cities, and towns across the state to do their part as well, especially when New York City is willing to pay for shelter, food, and more.
“We are appreciative of all our partners across the state, especially in Erie County, who are stepping up and doing their part to meet the needs of asylum seekers,” the e-mailed statement said.
“This past week, we held a call with our counterparts in the state to discuss where we can move families with school-aged children as the school year approaches. As a result, we have been and will continue to make the necessary adjustments and movements with all of our populations to ensure we have the space necessary to meet the needs of families with children.”
-Additional reporting by Haley Brown
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