CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — 75 miles of border with Canada and a State of Emergency in St. Lawrence County.

On Friday, May 12, the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators declared a State of Emergency as Title 42 officially expired. Title 42 was a national public health order, issued during the COVID-19 pandemic that banned migrants from crossing into the United States from Mexico or Canada.

“What we were concerned about is the possibility that a large number of immigrants would be coming through our normal border crossings as we had seen happening down in New York City and other large ports of entry,” St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services Commissioner Joseph Seeber explained.

Officials predicted an influx of migrants seeking asylum into the United States would occur immediately across both the northern and southern borders.

Although this has yet to happen, Seeber said a lot more local resources would be needed if, or when it does.

“If they are paroled into the County pending asylum, they’re not qualified for a lot in terms of State or federal funding,” he said. “So a lot of that would be on St. Lawrence County. So we would have to use our St. Lawrence County tax dollars to cover that.”

But Seeber said if this influx does happen, it could exhaust resources as St. Lawrence County is also in the middle of a homelessness crisis.

Specifically in December 2022, DSS had to place 117 individuals while the county had Code Blue funding. Now rates have dropped to 60 individuals, which still has stressed housing programs and funding options.

“Trying to find housing for people immediately is tough because we are straining our resources now for the homeless population we have,” Seeber stated. “Any addition on that puts a strain on the resources we already have.”

However, the Board of Legislators originally declared a State of Emergency with hopes to receive funding and support.

Seeber added that the County is already working with the American Red Cross to establish plans for an emergency shelter if needed.

“We need to be able to meet those needs as they cross the border and whether they stay here or move on to other areas in the county, we’ll do everything we can within the scope of our responsibilities to make sure people are taken care of,” he said.

St. Lawrence County’s State of Emergency will remain in effect until June 10, 2023. The County said it will be reviewed prior to that date to determine if an extension should be granted.

There are currently no emergency orders in place at this time.