SPRING VALLEY, Rockland County (WABC) -- Rockland County lawmakers on Thursday called on the federal government to lend a helping hand as the area deals with an influx of asylum seekers coming from the southern border.
The village has always had a large immigrant population, but officials say now resources are being stretched even thinner by the recent wave of asylum seekers who have settled there over the last few months.
The exact number is unclear, but a video recorded last week shows a long line at an area food pantry and its director says there's been a 30 percent increase in demand.
"We're running out of food, we're running out of resources, to help the community," Rosie Samudio, of Rockland Community Action Partnership, said.
On Thursday, Rockland County joined the list of municipalities asking the federal government for money to help provide basic services.
"This is not something that's only happening on the southern border, it's something that's happening in our backyard and it's hurting people in our backyard," Rockland County Executive Ed Day said.
A group of protestors chanted in favor of supporting the asylum seekers rallied outside Thursday's event.
"I came here when I was 16 and I worked very hard to have the American dream, that I am still working on, and I feel like these types of things shed a dark light onto the good people like we are over here," Rockland County resident Nelcy Garcia said.
Newly elected Rep. Mike Lawler said the current immigration system is unsustainable.
"This is not about attacking immigrants, this is not about attacking migrants, this is about understanding the very real challenges that municipalities across New York and across the country are facing," Lawler said.
One man, who admitted he entered the us illegally in 2017, said the recent influx has made it even harder to find work, but he said everyone's goal is simple.
"We're humble people, we don't want to hurt anyone, we just want to work and get ahead," he said through a translator.
Next week, representative Lawler and a bipartisan group of freshmen members of Congress will try and tackle the immigration issue.
He said both parties must be willing to compromise in order to achieve meaningful reform.