February 5, 2024

By Lexi Bruening


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) – As Washington tries to strike a bipartisan deal on border security, a war of words erupts between Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

It’s a national story, but New Yorkers’ tax money is at stake. Hochul is ready to spend billions of dollars to take care of what’s happening with migrants in New York City. Meanwhile, she’s also trying to get Washington and New York’s Republican members of the house to act.

The saga began with a January 26 letter sent to Hochul by members of Congress, spearheaded by north country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R. – 21st District). Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R. – 24th), who represents Watertown, also signed it.

The letter urged Hochul to join other governors across the country in securing the southern border. It criticized Hochul for setting aside nearly $2.5 billion in the state budget to spend on migrants in New York City.

The letter told the governor illegal crossings at the northern border are at an all-time high and that her “refusal to reverse course has created an unsustainable environment…”

Hochul’s team pushed back with a letter from Director of State Operations Kathryn Garcia, sent on Sunday. It stated that the House Republican majority has taken no action to help address the national border crisis.

The letter also asked if the congresswomen would vote for a border bill recently introduced by the Senate, which among other things, would require the federal government to use that authority when daily average border crossings reach 5,000 over seven days, or 8,500 in one day.

The topic came up Monday in Syracuse.

“This should be happening. The only thing standing in the way is that the House Republicans refuse to take action. They don’t want there to be a resolution because they want to keep the chaos going,” said Hochul.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Stefanik accused the Hochul of thinking New Yorkers are stupid. She and other members of the House previously passed the Secure Border Act which Hochul had opposed.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney also took to X to say Governor Hochul is tossing the blame for her dereliction of duty on New York House Republicans.

In the past, Hochul has welcomed migrants to New York, calling the state a beacon of hope and freedom last summer.

In an apparent change of tone, the governor spoke out against a group of migrants who attacked two New York police officers, saying they should be deported.

“Get them all, send them back. You don’t touch our police officers. You don’t touch anybody,” said Hochul.

It’s unlikely the border bill would pass in the House. Stefanik and Tenney say they will not support the Senate border bill, claiming it normalizes mass illegal immigration and will only fuel the crisis.