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NJ mayor says buses of migrants bound for NY are being dropped off at NJ train stations

Jan 1, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: 4:06 pm

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey mayor says buses of migrants bound for New York City have been stopping at the train station in his town and others in an apparent effort to evade an executive order by New York’s mayor trying to regulate how and when migrants can be dropped off in the city.

Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli said Sunday that Secaucus police and town officials had been told by Hudson County officials about the arrival of buses at the train station in Secaucus Junction beginning Saturday. He said four buses were believed to have arrived and dropped off migrants who then took trains into New York City.

Gonnelli said the executive order signed recently by Mayor Eric Adams of New York requires bus operators to provide at least 32 hours’ advance notice of arrivals and to limit the hours of drop-off times.

“It seems quite clear the bus operators are finding a way to thwart the requirements of the executive order by dropping migrants at the train station in Secaucus and having them continue to their final destination,” Gonnelli said in a statement. He suggested that the order may be “too stringent” and is resulting in “unexpected consequences.”

Gonnelli called the tactic a “loophole” bus operators have found to allow migrants to reach New York City, and added that state police have reported that “this is now happening at train stations throughout the state.” Gonnelli vowed to work with state and county officials and to “continue to monitor this situation closely.”

A message posted on a social media account for Jersey City said the city’s emergency management agency reports that “approximately 10 buses from various locations in Texas and one from Louisiana have arrived at various transit stations throughout the state, including Secaucus, Fanwood, Edison, Trenton.” About 397 migrants had arrived at those locations since Saturday, the post Sunday said.

“This is clearly going to be a statewide conversation so it is important that we wait for some guidance from the governor here on next steps” as buses continue, the post said.

Tyler Jones, a spokesperson for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, told lehighvalleylive.com that New Jersey is being used as a transit point for migrants, almost all of whom continued on to New York City. Jones said New Jersey officials are “closely coordinating with federal and local officials ”including our colleagues across the Hudson.”

In New York City, a spokesperson for City Hall said Monday that the city had “led the nation in responding to this national humanitarian crisis, providing compassion, care, shelter, and vital services to more than 161,000 migrants” since spring 2022. The spokesperson characterized the executive order as “part of that effort, ensuring the safety and well-being of both migrants and city staff.”

The Texas governor, the spokesperson said, was treating asylum seekers “like political pawns” and dropping off families in surrounding areas “in the cold, dark of night with train tickets to travel to New York City” as was done in Chicago in response to a similar executive order there.

“This is exactly why we have been coordinating with surrounding cities and counties since before issuing our order to encourage them to take similar executive action to protect migrants against this cruelty,” the spokesperson said.

Adams last week joined mayors of Chicago and Denver to renew pleas for more federal help and coordination with Texas over the growing number of asylum-seekers arriving in their cities by bus and plane.

“We cannot allow buses with people needing our help to arrive without warning at any hour of day and night,” Adams said at a virtual news conference Wednesday with the other mayors. “This not only prevents us from providing assistance in an orderly way, it puts those who have already suffered” so much in danger.

The Democratic mayors, who met last month with President Joe Biden, want more federal funds, efforts to expand work authorization, and a schedule for when buses arrive. Cities have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to house, transport and provide medical care for migrants.

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NJ mayor says buses of migrants bound for NY are being dropped off at NJ train stations