President Joe Biden missed an opportunity to begin messaging about the migrant crisis.  

He spent part of the day Wednesday in the suburbs of the Hudson Valley, arguably the most important congressional battleground of 2024. He spoke in Valhalla, at Westchester County Community College, about the possible ramifications of the U.S. defaulting on its debt. No doubt a critical issue, but nowhere as immediate, as visible, or as dramatic as the sight of hundreds of migrants being bussed to two suburban towns that don’t want them. 

Orangeburg in Rockland County and Newburgh in Orange County, about 20 and 30 minutes away from where he was speaking, have moved to the epicenter of the country’s third rail of politics. The reason? New York City Mayor Eric Adams is spearheading an effort to relocate asylum seekers to upstate, because, he says, the city has already opened its doors to over 60,000 people, but it needs to make room for more. 

Town officials aren’t happy about the maneuver, saying they weren’t given notice. Both county executives affected by the relocation have declared states of emergency. Local officials in Orangeburg have filed for a restraining order to stop the transfer of migrants to several hotels. 

Yet no mention of the drama unfolding just across the Hudson by the president of the United States.

According to News 12, a representative for Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan says federal officials are actively discussing immigration reform and that the critical issue could come up for a vote as soon as Thursday.

If that’s the case, the absence of any mention of asylum seekers by President Biden is even more striking.

Less surprising: the President didn’t mention the arrest of Republican Rep. George Santos on Long Island.

The embattled freshman congressman was taken into custody earlier Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, as well as money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to Congress. 

Like Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, whose district Biden visited Wednesday, Santos was a member of the newly elected class of Republicans from suburban areas of New York state. 

Long-time reporter and editorial writer for Newsday, Larry Levy, executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra, told Capital Tonight that while none of Wednesday's events were synchronized, there was a synchronicity to them. 

“The suburbs are the decisive voting bloc in this country,” said Levy. “The suburbs are populated by bright red Republicans and deep blue Democrats. But there’s a preponderance of moderate, middle-of-the-road swing voters. They are homeowners. They are invested in their communities. They have parents to worry about, kids to worry about. They are not open to anti-government themes like they heard from the Republicans, but they are really worried about some pocketbook issues, and fear of crime.  And the Democrats have made them nervous in New York state.”

Crime was central to Republican victories in the New York City suburbs in the last election cycle. If Biden doesn’t fill the current vacuum with a new narrative, the migrant crisis may very well take the place of crime in the next election cycle. Or the one after that.