New York Republicans believe they have a powerful new weapon that could be even more successful in the upcoming election against the Democrats than the state’s outrage against bail reform in 2022: the migrant crisis.
GOP strategists said the importance of the migrant problem is comparable to the way local Republicans blasted Democrats for approving New York’s widely criticized cashless bail law – which allowed the Grand Old Party to win key seats in the House of Representatives winning last fall’s election, nearly running for governor, and a… red wave in the suburbs.
Those responsible for manipulating the refugee crisis are all Democrats — President Biden, Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York Mayor Eric Adams, as well as New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Majority Leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand, GOP insiders said.
Even some Democrats agree that the crisis is a red flag for their party’s candidates.
“There are clearly political problems for Democrats if the state continues to be in disarray on this migrant issue,” said former Rep. Max Rose, who represented Staten Island and South Brooklyn before being at least partially ousted over criminal justice issues.
“There is a significant risk that Democrats will not be able to win back congressional seats that should be Democratic seats,” Rose told The Post.
Republicans’ mouths are watering.
“The Democrats are cornered,” said GOP strategist Chapin Fay. “The migrants are here and they will not return. You reap what you sow.
“New York is a haven city,” he said, referring to the Big Apple’s statement to limit cooperation with federal agencies in eradicating illegal immigrants.
“It’s an issue that Republicans can use against Democrats, like the unpopular non-cash bail law that was passed by Democrats in Albany,” Fay said. “It might even be more successful. This is bad for the Democrats on all sides.”
David Catalfamo, a Republican aide who served as top adviser to former Republican Gov. George Pataki, said, “The ineffectiveness of Democrats in solving this problem has been astounding.”
“You underestimated the migration problem. It’s about homelessness, crime and the problem of migration.
“The refugee crisis will help Republicans across the state — next year in congressional elections and this year in local elections,” predicted Catalfamo.
Republican pollsters said concerns about the relentless influx of migrants flooding New York City — and being bused on to other parts of the state — have already become voters’ top concerns, alongside crime and taxes.
“Democrats have the refugee crisis in command from top to bottom and have no solution. “Republican candidates will hold Democrats accountable for the refugee crisis,” said John McLaughlin, a pollster who conducts polls of GOP candidates in New York for congressional and local elections.
McLaughlin said the recent arrests of two migrants for sexually assaulting women at two temporary hotels near Buffalo Airport have set off alarm bells.
“The sex crimes committed by migrants in Erie County made national headlines,” he said.
Some counties that border New York City — like GOP-controlled Nassau County on Long Island — have refused to accept migrants.
But McLaughlin said Long Island voters are “apoplectic” over the 1,000 migrant encampment that has just opened at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, bordering Nassau, and fear the troubles are spreading to their region could.
Last year, GOP nominee for governor Lee Zeldin came just five points from toppling Democrat Kathy Hochul in the heavily blue state by criticizing her over the cashless bail law and fears of crime.
His strong performance at the top of the list of candidates in the embattled suburbs of Long Island and the Hudson Valley helped move a handful of congressional seats from Democrats to Republicans, allowing the GOP to almost single-handedly regain control of the House of Representatives.
“Democrats have puzzled themselves by refusing to address the refugee crisis head-on. I expect Republicans will have a lot more energy and motivation to talk about the refugee crisis and how to resolve it,” Zeldin said, in part by promoting tougher border protection policies.
In fact, Democrats falter and switch positions on the fly, pointing fingers at other Democrats:
- Hochul, who has advocated busing some migrants from the city to the suburbs and inland, changed her mind last week. She said there was more capacity in the Big Apple to house more migrants and criticized Mayor Adams for not using some of the state-owned sites in the five boroughs for migrant camps.
- Mark Poloncarz, executive director of Eric County, who has campaigned in the past to welcome migrants in his area, said this month he would not accept any more migrants in the Buffalo area after it was found there in hotels housing asylum seekers arriving on buses from New York City suffered two sexual assaults.
- Adams challenges the Court’s 1981 Right to Housing Act, which required the city to provide temporary housing to anyone who asked for it and imposed a 60-day limit on migrants staying in shelters.
As of spring 2022, approximately 100,000 men, women and children seeking asylum have arrived in New York City, more than 57,000 of whom are currently being housed in 198 shelters across the five boroughs.
Other Democrats have tried to wall themselves off or distance themselves from the issue.
Suffolk County CEO Steve Bellone, a moderate Democrat, passed an emergency executive order refusing to accept migrants from New York City for accommodation in Suffolk hotels. According to sources, Bellone, whose term in office is limited, is keeping the option open to run for another office.
GOP activists said the refugee crisis will also be the top concern in some competitive New York City Council elections, including: Democrat-turned Councilman Ari Kagan vs. Democratic Councilman Justin Brannan, facing off in south Brooklyn redistribution; Incumbent GOP councilwoman Vicki Paladino in a rematch against former Democratic councilman Tony Avella in east Queens and Republican challenger Kristy Marmorato against Democratic councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez in District 13 in the east Bronx.
Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels and Republican nominee for mayor in 2021, said Republican candidates could use the migrant crisis to counter Democrats, who are pushing them for abortion rights imposed by the Supreme Court ruling USA was eroded in the last year.
“The refugee crisis will be the defining issue that Republicans use against Democrats,” Sliwa said.
“Democrats will go for abortion, abortion, abortion,” he said. But “everyone only talks about the refugee crisis.”
Democratic adviser Hank Sheinkopf said Biden is trying to contain the refugee crisis in urban areas like New York, whose votes he has bagged, while also aiming to win embattled states in the Midwest next year.
“It’s absolutely damaging to the Democrats in New York,” said Sheinkopf, who worked on Democratic President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign.