NY21 candidates weigh in on refugees fleeing to Canada through North Country

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) New York's primary election for federal offices is Tuesday. The big race in our region is to determine who will challenge Congresswoman Elise Stefanik in November. This is for the huge 21st congressional district that covers 12 counties including Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties in our viewing area.

There are five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination: Tedra Cobb, Dylan Ratigan, Katie Wilson, Patrick Nelson and Emily Martz.

Our Kelly O'Brien recently spoke to the candidates about refugees crossing over to Canada via Northern New York.

"I mean it's devastating," Katie Wilson said.

"It hurts my soul to see that in my lifetime the United States has gone from being a country that refugees flee to and now has become a country that refugees flee from," Patrick Nelson said.

Since the 2016 presidential election, we've seen a rise in refugees crossing into Canada illegally. Many of them use a small, dead-end road called Roxham Road in Champlain, New York.

"We need first and foremost to remember that we are a country of immigrants and we are a country that's founded on and value compassion," Emily Martz said.

We asked your New York 21st congressional hopefuls their stance on refugees fleeing to Canada

"I think the United States needs immigration reform. We have been talking about it but it is not happening. Many of those people have had temporary protected status in the United States, they have been here for 30 years, 20 years, and they're afraid," Tedra Cobb said.

Others, like candidate Katie Wilson, spoke of the need for immigration reform. She noted farmers in the area and their need for migrant workers.

"This issue is really interesting and to kind of bring it back to a local level, it doesn't need to be a partisan issue. I've talked to so many farmers, especially dairy farmers who have invested so much time and energy and emotional connection in their employees only to have to say goodbye in a few months," Wilson said.

Candidate Dylan Ratigan said he did not the refugee exodus as a major issue.

"I think the stories about the people fleeing the country to go to Canada are anecdotes that can be alarming, but I don't believe that they are indicative to where our country is or where our region is," Ratigan said.

This is a closed primary, so you must be a registered Democrat to vote. Polling opens at 12 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m.

Here's where the candidates will be:

-Tedra Cobb will be at the Best Western in Canton

-Dylan Ratigan will be at the Lake Placid Town Hall

-Katie Wilson will be in Plattsburgh at the Plattsburgh Brewing Company

-Emily Martz and Patrick Nelson will both be at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls with the Democratic Unity Party