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NY’s Orange, Rockland migrant ban ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring two upstate counties from enforcing emergency orders

NEW YORK:  A federal district court judge on Tuesday said that executive orders issued by Rockland and Orange counties that sought to bar New York City from sending migrants there were unconstitutional, citing a “discriminatory motive.”

The decision came in the form of a preliminary injunction granted to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the two lower Hudson Valley counties’ executive orders in federal court on May 11, according to Times Union.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five migrants seeking asylum and was later expanded to a class-action suit on behalf of all migrants seeking asylum in those counties. The defendants in the case — Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Rockland County Executive Ed Day — both declared states of emergency last month in an attempt to thwart a plan by New York City Mayor Eric Adams that would bus hundreds of migrants from New York City to upstate communities.

The court found those orders intentionally discriminate against the plaintiffs and violate their rights to travel freely within New York. The ruling means that Rockland and Orange counties cannot use their orders to restrict the movement or housing of newly arrived migrants.

In his decision, federal judge Nelson Roman cited violations of the Constitution’s equal protection clause — which mandates that people in similar situations be treated equally by the law — and of the right to intrastate travel. He also made clear that the decision does not overrule temporary restraining orders, which are being litigated in state courts. A decision on those orders is expected on June 21.

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