A recent forum hosted by leaders of Latino advocacy groups concerning recent activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents was well attended by those in our community who are worried and afraid, and they should be.
Deportation wreaks havoc not only the individual involved, but also the entire family network.
If the target is indeed a productive member of the community, the wisdom of this aggressive policy must and should be questioned.
There was some misinformation disseminated by the local press. One East End newspaper, for example, reported a “wave of detentions of local residents by officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.”
It is true ICE officers arrested 225 individuals during a sweep in its New York region, which includes New York City, parts of the Hudson Valley, and Long Island. But not the East End.
ICE officials declined to break them down by zip code, but indicated very little local activity.
Some who attended the meeting fear Latino leaders were fostering anti-ICE sentiment within the Latino community; despite the fact ICE agents are dealing with murderous gangs with a palpable presence on Long Island.
But Minerva Perez of Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island pointed out that the Latino gangs, more often than not, target — and kill — Latinos. She said while no one objects to ICE agents rounding up dangerous felons, the focus seems to have shifted, and undocumented immigrants who have led productive lives are now being targeted for deportation.
Predictably, organizers at the meeting quickly got around to Trump bashing, which has become a closet industry here on the East End. Spreading misinformation and fear-mongering is the kind of behavior that got Trump elected.
ICE agents are not in the courtesy business. They don’t take courses to brush up on their bedside manner. Maybe that needs to be addressed.
We need to develop a dialogue between our local officials, law enforcement agencies, and ICE; we need to ensure productive members of our community can lead their lives without fear of an early-morning raid. And yes, we need to be aware ICE agents on the front line deserve our respect and our cooperation.