The House of Representatives has made a significant move by passing the Schools Not Shelters Act, which aims to prohibit the use of public schools and colleges that receive federal funds as shelters for migrants.
Schools Not Shelters Act Passed By House
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) and co-sponsored by several fellow New York Republicans. The Schools Not Shelters Act garnered support from four Democrats as well, leading to its successful passage with a 222-201 vote, New York Post reported.
The proposal comes in response to New York City Mayor Eric Adams‘ consideration of using public schools, which are currently closed for the summer, to temporarily house thousands of migrants. The move has sparked concerns among lawmakers about the impact on children’s education and well-being.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis expressed her concerns about children losing out on essential learning opportunities if school facilities are repurposed as shelters. She emphasized the importance of preserving these spaces for educational purposes, especially after the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Malliotakis and other lawmakers hold President Biden and Mayor Adams responsible for the ongoing migrant crisis. They criticize Biden for failing to secure the border and Adams for misinterpreting New York’s right to shelter law, resulting in migrants being housed instead of citizens.
However, despite its passage in the House, the Schools Not Shelters Act faces opposition from the White House. The administration argues that the Schools Not Shelters Act would undermine local control and hinder the decision-making authority of states and municipalities concerning their school buildings.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Molinaro, represents a district directly affected by the relocation of migrants, which has not been well-received by local communities. Schools in his district are already grappling with post-pandemic challenges, making additional distractions or burdens unwelcome.
Schools Not Shelters Act
While the Schools Not Shelters Act has cleared the House, its future in the Senate remains uncertain, as it currently lacks a sponsor in the upper chamber. Given the strong opposition from the White House and concerns about local control, the Senate’s consideration of the bill may be delayed or may not happen at all.
In the meantime, New York City continues to explore alternative solutions to handle the influx of migrants. The Office of Emergency Management has compiled a list of school buildings that could potentially serve as temporary shelters for asylum-seekers. Mayor Adams has emphasized the city’s responsibility to care for migrants but acknowledges that the options available are not ideal. As the situation unfolds, lawmakers will continue to grapple with the best course of action to address the needs of both migrants and local communities.