Congressman Lee Zeldin held a roundtable on immigration issues today at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead with law enforcement officials, but advocates argue that the meeting omitted key stakeholders and organizations.
“By shutting out the voices of immigrant advocates, the congressman’s office demonstrated just how little respect they have for community input and dialogue. Without immigrant perspectives, this so-called roundtable is nothing more than a feedback loop of anti-immigrant sentiment,” said Irma Solis, director of the Suffolk chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), in a statement.
Invited to the roundtable were a variety of law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Suffolk police commissioner, district attorney, and the county sheriff.
Zeldin co-hosted the event with House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, author of much-criticized legislative proposals that attempted to actualize President Trump’s draconian “pillars” of so-called immigration reform.
NYCLU stated that advocates were denied entry into the meeting. As reported by Riverhead Local, a Zeldin spokesperson said that the meeting would not be open to the public.
From the Zeldin camp, communications director Katie Vincentz told Riverhead Local that they invited the Long Island Farm Bureau, which speaks for the “immigrant workforce.”
“Other than that, the focus of this particular roundtable is to hear from law enforcement experts on their efforts and proposals,” she said.
Minerva Perez, executive director of OLA of Eastern Long Island, told Riverhead Local that if the roundtable was intended to combat gang violence, there would “most definitely be a seat at the table for every Long Island immigrant activist group.”
“The fact that there isn’t shows the truth of this meeting which focuses on fear and fulmination of anti-immigrant sentiment,” Perez said.