Borough President Vito Fossella joined Rep. Nicole Malliotakis as she announced plans to introduce legislation to ban migrant housing on the historic grounds of Fort Wadsworth at a press conference on Wednesday.
He recalled recently standing in the same spot last year to call on Staten Islanders to donate goods to a pantry operated by the Blue Star Families at Fort Wadsworth “so that active military personnel could take care of their own children.”
“And, yet the federal government has no problem saying we’re thinking about putting these folks up here for free, feeding them for free, giving them a free education, free accommodations, free healthcare, free phones and free debit cards,” Borough President Fossella said. “How is that logical, how is that right and how is that consistent with the American way?”
Borough President Fossella said the idea of housing migrants at Fort Wadsworth was like a scenario proposed three decades ago.
“Thirty years ago, when this facility was transferred from the Department of Defense to the National Park Service, the city tried to carve out about a third of it for homeless facilities and they were overruled," he said. "So, this is not the first attempt to house asylum seekers or the homeless here at Fort Wadsworth. If you want to put folks who may have come here illegally and may be sent back, put them on Ellis Island. I don’t hear anyone talking about opening Ellis Island for tents. How about Governor’s Island? No, instead we're going to put them right here on Staten Island, near the people who built this community. I grew up right outside of Fort Wadsworth. My family has been here since 1947. We were taught to respect what was behind this fence. Now, how can we with this proposal?"