SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- An announcement from Suffolk County legislators was met with outbursts and interruptions. They are hiring an attorney to help stop New York City from placing migrants in hotels there, whether or not the county executive takes action.
The legislators say they have been hearing from hotels the city has contacted about sheltering migrants. Hiring an attorney is the first step toward a lawsuit to make sure it doesn't happen.
"New York City made a conscious decision to call itself a sanctuary city. Suffolk County did not," said legislator Kevin McCaffrey.
It was a similar rhetoric to what we have heard from officials in Rockland and other suburban counties, saying Suffolk can't afford to house migrants.
"This is not an anti-immigration stance," McCaffrey said.
However, several residents say it is exactly that. Some brought signs saying 'Remember Marcelo Lucero' - an Ecuadorian immigrant killed in Patchogue 15 years ago in a hate crime.
At times the officials could barely finish their sentences.
Congressman Nick Lalota blamed New York City for welcoming migrants and sheltering them.
"And these folks who have created this mess owe the responsibility to pay for this mess," Lalota added.
There were supporters in the crowd.
"My taxes should not go to illegals because they gave nothing to this country," said Ellen DiDomenico.
However, others called that rhetoric disappointing, divisive, and xenophobic.
"The level of hatred that I've heard in this room today is really upsetting," said Serena Martin Liguori.
"It is not who we're supposed to be as Americans. It falls short of who we say we are and what we're supposed to live up to," said Shoshana Hershkowitz.
Mayor Eric Adams made yet another plea for federal help with the crisis on Sunday.
"42 thousand are still in our care and we are seeing around several hundred a day. Last week, several days we received over 900 - this is just not sustainable," Adams said.
In response to Suffolk County, officials on Sunday the mayor's spokesperson went on to say,
"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. In most areas, we're not even asking localities to help manage 1/4 of 1% of the asylum seekers that have arrived in New York City, and again with New York covering the costs."
Nassau County's executive last week also made it clear it has no interest in housing migrants.
Orange and Rockland Counties are suing the city to stop it from bringing migrants to hotels there. Suffolk County's executive has only said his county will be both fiscally responsible and humane, but the town of Riverhead has declared an emergency in order to stop its shelters from accepting asylum seekers.