|An important message from our County Executive George Latimer |
A few days ago we were made aware of private flights arriving at the Westchester Airport late at night, disembarking passengers who were transferred to buses, driven to off-site destinations. Neither the County government, nor State or local government, were informed of this operation in advance, nor asked or given right of approval of this operation. The superior authority of the Federal government prevailed. Our inquiries were not immediately responded to, but we have received some verbal information as of late last night for which we will seek written or public confirmation today.
These flights have set afire the radical anti-immigrant right wing of Westchester… on my personal Facebook page as I advised people we were engaged in getting detailed facts, the Trump inspired angry cohort took to accusations, misrepresentations and outright lies. The intensity of the comments were aided by Republican candidates for office in 2021 who fanned the flames of distrust with innuendo and vitriol.
This proves once again that what was once a Republican Party of reasonable conservatives has now been taken over by its radical core on the far right, wild-eyed about culture war issues rather than effectively running a government. More on that in a minute.
As we have pieced together the narrative what we can assert about these flights is:
• The flights are an operation at the direction of the Federal Health and Human Services Agency – Office of Refugee Services.
• The flights that have landed at the County Airport are just some of the many flights at airports nationwide designed to resettle those unemancipated children (below the age of 18) housed at the Southern Border. There are no adults in this group.
• The children on these flights have been vaccinated and/or are following all other CDC protocols to ensure their protection from the COVID-19 virus
• Those on the flights are not housed upon landing overnight in Westchester. They are boarded into buses that take them to HHS designated locations: relatives; adoptive families: established shelters. These facilities are not located within the county, but are in nearby locations in NYC, NJ and Connecticut.
I am seeking today to get confirmation in writing of these facts so that we can respond to the allegations that unvaccinated immigrants are left to wander aimlessly spreading COVID-19, that they are being brought in to register to vote and all other such nonsense which the far right has festered.
This is the Biden Administration plan for dealing with the crisis at our Southern border; we know what the Trump Administration plan was and the humanitarian crisis it created. Trump acolytes and sycophants simply want all immigrants to leave the USA immediately, and will castigate those who do not share that belief.
As County Executive, I have no authority to stop or alter this operation. I have expressed my opposition to the surreptitious nature of late night flights (breaking our voluntary curfew) which added fuel to the fire of those opposed to the overall resettlement plan.
What is clear for those of us in the political world – we have been handed a hot-button issue ripe for demonization by the right wingers of the Westchester Republican Party. They recently embraced The Proud Boys and others who defended Donald Trump in his two- night visit to Westchester. Their allegiance to Trump and his policies remains intact.
Many activists look ahead to the 2022 elections where the US Senate and the US House are on the line, along with the election for Governor and other NYS statewide offices. In light of the Cuomo resignation last week, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
But now we faced a revivified local GOP in 2021, when the control of our County government – my seat as County Executive and 17 Legislative seats – and numerous city, town and village elections – are at hand. We need the type of turnout we received in 2017 and 2019; if we fall back to the turnout in 2009 and 2013 when disinterested Democrats just didn’t vote, we risk Republican control of our backyard, taking us backwards, and giving comfort to the GOP plans for 2022. Our base, and the independent voters that join us, must be motivated to vote in 2021 if we are to push back against this tide.
There are legitimate questions and concerns to be met at all times…including this operation of resettlement. Once we realize, however, that for many on the right it is not about wanting information, it is about fomenting lies*** and polemics designed to do what they couldn’t accomplish on January 6th. We know what our task is.
I will continue to do my best to do my job, and I thank you for continuing to do your best as advocates. Together, we will accomplish what is best for this county of 1,000,000+ – growing stronger every day.
Westchester County Executive
***Personal Note from Damon: My predecessor as the County Legislator for the 10th District, whose Trumpian ideology was thoroughly repudiated by the voters of this district in 2017 and again when her puppet lost in a landslide in 2019, has now blamed me and the County Executive personally for “buses” of unvaccinated illegal immigrants…being dropped off in Westchester.” (Meanwhile, the folks espousing this nonsense are the same ones resisting mandatory masking in schools and vaccinations.) Why so much knee-jerk hate directed at refugee children? Do we want to go back to kids in cages? And I wonder what my 2021 Republican opponent, who features his own two adorable toddlers in his online campaign video, has to say about aiding the youngest refugees from civil war and other forms of violence and extreme economic distress.
|You are One in a Million|
Or at least one of a million if you live in Westchester. Or to be more precise, one of 1,004,457. As the CE alluded to above, fleshed out in Assembly Member Amy Paulin’s report below, the 2020 official figures show, for the first time in the history of the decennial federal census, that our County has over a million residents, up almost 6% from the count in 2010. So much for the phony, constant conservative Republican claims that “everyone” is leaving because of our “burdensome” regulations, taxes and “declining” quality of life. Growth has been greatest in areas that are closest to transit to the nearby, most important city in the world, and communities that are walkable to shops and services. And if you really want to improve the quality of your life, please spend more time at our magnificent parks, pools and beaches, as Deb and I have been more often during pandemic time. Here we are at Willson’s Waves, wearing leis that were given to all the attendees on Saturday for Family Fun Day. And, for those of you who don’t already know this from my County email (there’s a link to subscribe at https://westchesterlegislators.com/district-10 if you’d like to be added to my official County email list), New Rochelle residents can go to Willson’s Waves without a County park pass for the rest of the season. Daily attendance fees still apply. I was pleased to help facilitate this benefit to New Rochelle residents who can’t use the Lincoln Pool this summer because of construction on the new Boys and Girls Club. Thanks also to Westchester Parks and the City of New Rochelle for helping to make this happen.
On the populations stats, as Casey (not Yogi) often said, you could look it up…US Census NewsYesterday the United States Census Bureau released granular demographic data at the county, municipality, census tract and census block level. These data provide insights into demographic changes in communities throughout our country and will be used going forward for redistricting at all levels of government, including for US Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, County Legislative and City Council districts. Learn more here.
One of the big takeaways from this data is that Westchester County now has a population of more than one million people for the first time. According to the 2020 Census, Westchester County had a population of 1,004,457 on Census Day, April 1, 2020. The Westchester County government has stated that an accurate count will enable Westchester County to receive billions of dollars in state and federal funding that is allocated based on population and can be used for our schools, infrastructure, roads, hospitals, fire departments, and after school programs.
Now that the data have been released, the State’s Independent Redistricting Commission will begin to put pen to paper on their first draft of Congressional and State Legislative districts. For more information on that process and how to get involved, visit https://nyirc.gov/.
If you want to explore more of the Census data, take a look at the Demographic Data Map viewer, search information in the Census QuickFacts tool, or download the 2020 Census Redistricting Summary data files.