Authored by Matthew Lysiak via The Epoch Times,
Growing safety concerns over the city’s bussing of illegal immigrants into the outer boroughs have intensified efforts from Staten Island to break away from the Big Apple.
“The values of New York City are not in line with those of Staten Island and they haven’t been for a long time and that divide is only growing larger,” Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella told the Epoch Times.
“There is this very real sense that the city won’t listen to our concerns and that we have reached a boiling point.”
“The people feel like we are on a tugboat attached to the Titanic,” Fossella said.
“The people can see that the city is sinking, and unless we are okay with sinking too, there is a need to separate.”
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella (at right, wearing black shirt and white pants) at a protest outside a Catholic school that was converted into a shelter for illegal immigrants on Aug. 29, 2023. (Courtesy of the Office of the Staten Island Borough President)
Staten Island, long known as the forgotten borough, has often flirted with the idea of breaking off from the rest of the city. It has always been an outlier within the five boroughs, with a majority conservative Republican population that is often at odds with the rest of the city. Despite New York City’s status as a blue stronghold, the borough mostly voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020. However, in recent years, many residents have reached a breaking point over increases in crime and, more recently, the bussing of illegal immigrants into residential neighborhoods, according to Mr. Fossella.
“They dump these individuals into our neighborhoods and to my knowledge none of them have been vetted,” said Mr. Fossella.
“One of these migrant shelters is located directly across the street from two elementary schools and they just expect the people to take it. Why would we want to take that risk?
“The concern is legitimate. We are not as safe as we should be and the people are fed up.”
Staten Island is facing the consequences of a growing surge of illegal immigrants into New York City, the only locality in the state considered to be a “Sanctuary City.” Where to put the influx of new illegal immigrants has become an issue of controversy and inter-party tensions.
The city has long claimed a legal obligation to provide housing for every resident under the so-called “right to shelter” law, which was first established in 1981. The rule came into existence after advocates for the homeless claimed the right to shelter in a lawsuit. The city agreed with the homeless advocates, signing a “consent decree,” which pledged to provide shelter to anyone suffering “physical, mental, or social dysfunction.”
City officials claim an estimated influx of 100,000 illegal immigrants has strained the city’s resources and services. Mayor Adams has insisted that New York City can’t sustain the numbers of new illegal immigrants, even by utilizing the outer boroughs, and has called on the rest of the state to help ease the burden.
“Governor Hochul has been a partner on subway safety, on crime, on a host of things, but I think on this issue the governor is wrong,” Adams told students during an Aug. 22 appearance at New York Law School.
“She’s the governor of the state of New York. New York City is in that state. Every county in this state should be part of this.”
Governor Kathy Hochul has pushed back on sharing the burden, declaring during a speech last week that “we cannot and will not force other parts of our state to shelter migrants, nor are we going to be asking these migrants to move to other parts of the state against their will.”
In preemptive motions, upstate county leaders have issued their own emergency orders to block Adams’s attempts to ship illegal immigrants into their communities. The Adams administration is challenging the legality of the emergency orders in court.
Staten Island officials understand that as long they remain part of the city, the busloads of illegal immigrants entering the borough will continue unimpeded.
“Almost no one here wants this, but there is nothing we can do,” said Mr. Fossella. “No one will listen.”
The Staten Island battle for independence faces an uphill climb. Any chance of secession depends on the approval of both the New York City Council and the state Legislature. However, despite the long odds, a growing chorus of local officials are determined to keep fighting for the borough’s right to self-determination.
At an Aug. 29 protest outside the former Catholic school where the city has set up a migrant shelter, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) called for Mr. Adams to allow the island to secede.
“What we’re simply asking is, for common sense. We want the mayor to end this. Stop doing what you’re doing and listen. Secure the damn border. We do not have a border. We do not have a nation,” Ms. Malliotakis said during the protest, according to her office.
“If you’re not going to do your job, mayor, then let Staten Island secede.”
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