'Anger Is Boiling Over': Staten Island Residents Sue Over Illegal Immigration Shelter

Staten Island is facing the consequences of a growing surge of illegal immigrants into New York City.
'Anger Is Boiling Over': Staten Island Residents Sue Over Illegal Immigration Shelter
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella at a protest ouside a Catholic school that was converted into a shelter for illegal immigrants, in N.Y., on Aug. 29, 2023. (Courtesy of the Office of the Staten Island Borough President)
Matthew Lysiak

New York City Mayor Eric Adams didn’t consult a small, quiet Staten Island neighborhood before dropping busloads of illegal immigrants off at the site of a former Catholic school, where the air is now filled with the smell of raw sewage, lawyers looking to shutter the site charged at a court hearing on Thursday.

“Anger is boiling over. The nuisance that the city created in this residential community is outrageous,” alleged Mark Fonte, a lawyer for Staten Island resident Scott Herkert. “The buses sometimes arrive in the middle of the night, and there is no notice when the migrants are coming, how many, or where they are going. There is absolutely no coordination by city hall with the local officials who have to deal with this problem.

“There is a great deal of anger over how the mayor treats us,” Mr. Fonte told The Epoch Times. “We feel like we are being treated like Joe Biden's seventh grandchild, totally ignored.”

At the nearly three-hour hearing, Justice Wayne Ozzi heard arguments from lawyers representing Staten Island residents who want the 300-person shelter closed. Attorneys representing the community claimed that in addition to not having the infrastructure, the shelter’s use of outdoor showers, which use water heaters running on generators 24 hours a day, have polluted the area with the run-off of raw sewage that flows off the side of the property, according to Mr. Fonte.

“The smell is awful,” said Mr. Fonte. “It is unreasonable to expect this small community to want to live under these conditions. We are talking about a small residential neighborhood with detached homes.”

Chad Hughes, a lawyer representing the city, countered that the complaints did not rise to the level of what’s known as an “irreparable harm” that the judge would need to find to order the site closed, according to the New York Post. 

City officials claim an estimated influx of 100,000 illegal immigrants has strained the city’s resources and services. Mr. Adams has insisted that New York City can’t sustain the numbers of new illegal immigrants, even by utilizing the outer boroughs, and has called on the rest of the state to help ease the burden.

Judge Ozzi is expected to offer a written decision sometime next week.

The 'Forgotten Borough'

Growing safety concerns over the city's bussing of illegal immigrants into the outer boroughs have renewed efforts from Staten Island officials to break away from the Big Apple and formally succeed.
“The people feel like we are on a tugboat attached to the Titanic,” Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview. “The people can see that the city is sinking, and unless we are okay with sinking, too, there is a need to separate.”

Staten Island is facing the consequences of a growing surge of illegal immigrants into New York City, the only locality in the state considered a “sanctuary city.” Where to put the influx of new illegal immigrants has become an issue of controversy and inter-party tensions.

Staten Island, long known as the "forgotten borough," has often flirted with the idea of breaking off from New York City. It has always been an outlier within the five boroughs, with a majority conservative Republican population often at odds with the rest of the city.

The city has long claimed a legal obligation to provide housing for every resident under the so-called right to shelter law, which was first established in 1981. The rule came into existence after advocates for the homeless claimed the right to shelter in a lawsuit. The city agreed with the homeless advocates, signing a “consent decree,” which pledged to provide shelter to anyone suffering “physical, mental, or social dysfunction.”

Mr. Fonte said he has had discussions with elected officials over a possible secession movement and that it was difficult to quantify the outrage of local residents.

“The mayor created an emergency by deeming New York a sanctuary city, then once he created the emergency, he vested emergency powers on to himself, then he shakes his fingers at Staten Island for not helping to solve the emergency he created,” said Mr. Fonte.

“This is a very slippery slope and the definition of tyranny.”

Matthew Lysiak is a nationally recognized journalist and author of “Newtown” (Simon and Schuster), “Breakthrough” (Harper Collins), and “The Drudge Revolution.” The story of his family is the subject of the series “Home Before Dark” which premiered April 3 on Apple TV Plus.