migrant crisis

30 migrants found living in unsafe conditions at Rockland County home

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Investigators in New York say a tip led them to dozens of undocumented immigrants living inside a single-family home in Rockland County apparently bussed to town from New York City.

A Cape Cod-style home in New City now at the center of the probe is zoned for a single family, but looks can be deceiving based on what officials said they found inside.

"We believe that at least 31, maybe more, individuals are living in this house. Some of the most egregious conditions we have ever seen: the electrical totally overloaded, extension cords all over the place," Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann said. "You can see that's the garage, those are children on those mattresses in the garage. This would have been an absolute disaster if people would have died in this house."

Back in March, five people died in a deadly house fire in Spring Valley where authorities cited the owner for code violations. Clarkstown officials secured a search warrant for the New City home last Friday after getting an anonymous tip and talking with immigrants who were searching for clothes at a local drop-off bin.

"We believe this is organized. We believe that there are people behind this from the statements that have been relayed to our inspectors and the police. These folks talked about a kind of chain: people were coming through, that they would come into the country, stay in this migrant flophouse for a short period of time and that they would be going to other locations," Hoehmann said.

Officials said the owner of the home is listed as 29-year-old Shloima Koppel of Monsey; no one answered at his address on Monday. Town attorneys went to court in the morning for a temporary restraining order and immediate eviction of anyone left in the New City home.

Koppel owners at least one other rental property in nearby Spring Valley. The county is now investigating all of Koppel's properties and officials are demanding more.

"I'm calling upon the state attorney general to immediately open up the investigation into the movement of human beings all over this state. I believe it's human trafficking and I believe there's money involved and it's illegal," Rockland County Executive Ed Day said.

Authorities are trying to determine how large this effort may be. The owner of the rental home, meanwhile, is expected to be hit with a number of violations.

A state Supreme Court judge gave New York City and New York State at least one more week to settle their differences over the right to shelter in New York. Melissa Russo reports.
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