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What are the rights of a migrant? New York attorney dispels misconceptions

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With tens of thousands of migrants now living in the state, many might be wondering what types of protections and rights they’re given by law.

While several counties have enacted orders, prohibiting large influxes, many of them are still left with unanswered questions about their futures.

“We’re dealing with migration to New York, especially on a level that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” said Ryan McCall, associate attorney, Tully Rinckey PLLC.

Bus by bus, city by city, tens of thousands are seeking a new life across many of our communities. Over the past year alone, New York City has taken in over 61,000 migrants, with close to 1,000 arriving each day, according to Forbes.

It’s been a challenge, not just for local leaders, but local attorneys, working to make sure each one of them has the tools they need to move forward.

“It’s really just a matter of getting everybody processed and working through all of the documentation that needs to be provided to the government so that these people can go pay taxes, contribute to the community, things of that nature,” said McCall.

McCall has worked with migrants and immigrants in the past. He says currently, the issue of employment is likely a top concern for most of them.

At the moment, migrants who have obtained the asylum seeker status must wait 180 days before gaining a work permit. That’s a ruling from the federal government, but Gov. Kathy Hochul is now calling on President Joe Biden to expedite that process in New York.

From there, McCall says the process becomes almost identical to anyone else seeking a job.

“Typically you’re given some level or an equivalent of a Social Security number, basically, which allows you to go and work for an individual company or business, something of that nature and then you’re effectively treated just as any entry-level employee, unless you’re able to allege a certain set of skills which would allow you to obtain skilled labor,” said McCall.

When it comes to housing, most decisions actually come down to the county level.

Over the past month, county executives across the state have taken measures to prevent large influxes into their communities.

While not naming migrants specifically, many have limited hotels from welcoming large groups.

McCall says this is strategic, as not allowing migrants simply because they’re migrants could land them in legal trouble.

“You can pass legislation not allowing long-term housing, things like that, but you really can’t discriminate based on this status, especially in New York state, where when they’re given asylum and they’re in New York State, New York state provides very strict protections for migrants just so they don’t face these types of issues,” said McCall.

The fate of their futures now lie in the hands of all levels of government, as thousands each day continue to look for a place to call home.

Currently, states of emergencies have been declared in over 30 counties in the state, preventing large influxes of individuals into their communities.

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