On February 26th, nearly 125 people gathered at the St. Mary of the Isle Community Center in Long Beach to discuss immigrant rights. Hosted by the Long Beach Latino Civic Association, the forum included a panel with State Senator Todd Kaminsky from Long Beach, Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, Director of CARECEN’s Pathway to Citizenship Long Island Elise S. Damas, Sylvia Finkelstein of the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, and T.J. Hatter, Long Island Director of Intergovernmental Affairs from the state Attorney General’s Office, answering questions from Long Beach residents.
Many of the residents who attended wished to know what their rights were if they were to be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This forum comes after a number of ICE raids across the country, as well as the release of implementation memos from the Department of Homeland Security that made all undocumented people a priority for arrest.
“We’re terrified, really,” Angela, a Long Beach resident who declined to give her last name, told Newsday, “People don’t want to go out on the street.”
“We’re seeing an administration that from the first week has targeted all swaths of the immigrant community, from undocumented, to visa holders, to even green card holders,” said Damas.
Participants were especially concerned about local police involvement in ICE activities. “None of us [in local law enforcement] are going to commit resources to deport a person that is productive and did nothing wrong,” Tangney told the crowd, “Every police chief I spoke to supports the people in this country.” However, Tangney also acknowledged that local law enforcement may have to cooperate with ICE to detain and deport people if a federal directive is issued.