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New York City sues counties refusing to house migrants

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By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – New York City filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing more than 30 New York counties of violating state law by moving to block the city from relocating hundreds of migrants.

The lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan says the counties, which stretch from the city’s northern suburbs to Niagara Falls on the U.S. border with Canada, are interfering with the city’s right to contract with hotels located elsewhere in the state to temporarily house migrants.

New York City has declared a state of emergency in response to tens of thousands of migrants bused to the city since last year from states along the U.S. southern border in a political dispute over border security.

The city last month said it was receiving 500 migrants per day and expected that number to increase and announced that it would move some migrants to other parts of New York.

Counties outside New York City have used various means to block the city from relocating migrants, including declaring states of emergency or barring hotels from providing temporary shelter to migrants.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, said in a statement that the city should not have to shoulder the influx of migrants on its own.

“This lawsuit aims to put an end to this xenophobic bigotry and ensure our state acts as one,” Adams said.

Representatives for several of the larger counties named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit is the latest salvo in a growing legal battle over New York City’s efforts to ease its migrant crisis.

At least nine counties have sued to block the city from relocating migrants; in turn, hotel operators contracting with the city have sued the counties for interfering with their business.

On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked suburban Rockland and Orange counties from enforcing bans on migrant housing. The judge said the bans illegally discriminate against migrants and violate their rights to travel freely within the state.

The city in Wednesday’s lawsuit is seeking to strike down executive orders issued by the counties and bar them from being enforced.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Lisa Shumaker)

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