Story About Homeless Veterans Being Booted From NY Hotels to Make Way for Migrants Was a Hoax

(AP Photo/Matt York)

It appears the story about homeless veterans being displaced by migrants in upstate New York hotels was a hoax, according to a New York politician quoted in the original story. The tale elicited outrage at the notion that homeless veterans  out into the street to make room for the ongoing influx of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.


The situation began when Sharon Toney-Finch, a veterans advocate who runs the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation (YIT), told the New York Post that upstate hotels were evicting almost two dozen homeless veterans to make room for incoming immigrants being bused from New York City and that her organization assisted the veterans in finding rooms at other hotels. That story quotes State Assemblyman Brian Maher, a New York Republican, as saying:

“Shining a light on this is important because we need to make sure these hotels know how important it is to respect the service of our veterans before they kick [them] out of hotels to make room.”

But now Maher is calling for an investigation into Toney-Finch’s story after she blocked his request for additional documentation he needed to conduct his own investigation into the incident. He’d provided the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh a receipt that Toney-Finch had given him, which she claimed was for veteran housing, and appeared to show a payment of $37,800. However, the hotel management found no evidence of any veterans staying there or being evicted, according to The Post:

“I scoured the system. I mean, we went back, and there were no veteran organizations,” said the manager, who didn’t want to be identified.

“There were no, absolutely no, veterans that were staying here that were asked to leave because of, you know, the migrants that were coming to stay here. Nobody was evicted. That’s for sure.”


The Hampton Inn and Super 8 hotels also denied Toney-Finch’s claims, so Maher asked Toney-Finch for more documentation.

“I asked her to give her permission to the bank to release the information. She denied authorization. After two minutes, I called her back and explained how I was feeling about not being able to see that information, and then I asked her if that was something she made up, and that’s when she really had a hard time getting the words out — this is someone who I worked with over the last three years — but she did reveal to me that this is not something that took place.”

But why would she do such a thing, Maher asked.

“Shortly after that, when I asked her why she would make something like that up, she said, ‘I had to help the veterans.’”

Maher has since distanced himself from YIT and called for investigations by the New York State Attorney General’s office and the Orange County District Attorney into the foundation’s activities, according to a report from Politico. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office urged caution before jumping to conclusions, highlighting that lying alone does not constitute criminal conduct without allegations of financial impropriety. The situation drew criticism from elected officials who condemned the attempts to smear migrants and exploit the issue of displaced veterans.


“As a matter of policy we do not normally comment on the existence or non-existence of investigations where no charges have been publicly filed. However, lying, without more, does not itself constitute criminal conduct, particularly absent any allegations of financial impropriety.”

The false narrative surrounding displaced veterans diverts attention away from the urgent need to address the situation at the southern border. Even further, misrepresenting the situation could perpetuate a divisive discourse that pits veterans against migrants, distracting from the complex issues at hand.

Fabricated stories about displaced veterans dilute the legitimacy of concerns raised by advocates who genuinely care about the well-being of veterans and the migrant community. When falsehoods are exposed, it creates skepticism and casts doubt on the credibility of future claims, even those based on factual evidence. This erosion of trust diminishes public support and hampers efforts to rally support for addressing critical issues, such as improving access to affordable housing, healthcare, and social services for veterans and implementing comprehensive immigration reforms.

Critics of the Biden administration have constantly emphasized the urgency of the migrant crisis. They have called for actual solutions to decrease the flow of migrants coming to the southern border. This situation has been dire since President Joe Biden first took office. Still, the White House refuses to take concrete steps to address the problem. Lying about the severity of the issue is not only unnecessary, but it undermines the issues being raised by those who want to see a solution to the problem. Hopefully, this story will be a one-off and not part of a pattern.



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