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Onondaga County Attorney explains the reasoning behind orders banning migrants

 A four story Beaux Arts style building built in the early 1900s with a large center dome and front columns.
File photo
The Onondaga County Courthouse on Montgomery St. in an undated photo.

Onondaga County and the Town of Salina continue to insist they have the legal grounds to prevent a large number of migrants from settling in the community. But it’s still not clear if, when, or how many asylum seekers are being sent here from New York City. 

Onondaga County Attorney Bob Durr says the state of emergency, restraining order and lawsuit are justified because an influx of migrants would strain the county’s resources.

“Nobody doesn't have sympathy for these people," Durr said. "Nobody is trying to shirk responsibility, being a basic human kindness, but we need some kind of plan, some kind of cooperation, some kind of funding source so we can do this.”

Durr says so far, the state and federal governments don’t have a plan to handle the situation or provide financial relief to localities.

The county is suing New York City and Candlewood Suites in Salina in an effort to halt the transfer and housing of migrants. The lawsuit indicates the hotel has struck a deal to accommodate the migrants.

Durr says that would violate the executive order.

“A hotel has the right to put up anybody they want," Durr said. "But they become part and parcel of this process that New York City has initiated, which we are saying is not in accordance with the law.”

On Tuesday, Onondaga County Supreme Court Judge Robert Antonacci approved a temporary restraining order prohibiting Candlewood Suites from housing migrants. In a statement, Salina Supervisor Nick Paro called it a "small victory" and looks forward to a full restraining order.

But how will the various orders be enforced? Durr says action would be sought through the courts, and not law enforcement.

“I’d hate to waste law enforcement resources to just count heads," Durr said. "We’d be able to get documentation through discovery from the hotels and from the city to document how many people, how long these stays were. So it'd be more along the lines of civil action and then a criminal action.”

Durr says so far, about half of the counties in New York have issued executive orders citing the same concerns about the burden on local resources.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at