On February 2nd, over 100 people came to the Saxton Middle School in Patchogue to discuss the services available to immigrant families in the local township. Organized by the Patchogue-Medford school district, representatives from the Town of Brookhaven, Congressman Lee Zeldin’s office, the Patchogue-Medford Library, Mayor of Patchogue Paul Pontieri, and Robert Calarco of the Suffolk County Legislature were present, as well as representatives from Make the Road NY and the Long Island Progressive Coalition. These different institutions provided informational pamphlets and forms at specific tables, as well as giving immigrant families the chance to ask questions and seek advice.
Each of the local organizations gave a presentation in the school’s auditorium, with each speaker joined on stage by an interpreter for the Spanish speakers in the audience. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, who assured the audience that the police were there to protect them regardless of immigration status, also brought Inspector Milagros Soto of the Third Precinct, the highest ranking Latina officer in the department to join him on stage. After the presentation, organizations held open tables in which attendees could approach and ask questions. All the speakers shared the same message: that one’s immigration status did not and would not affect the quality of treatment received from any of the organizations.
“As I’ve said to many of you before, if your home is in the village of Patchogue, if you sleep in the village of Patchogue, you are a resident of the village of Patchogue,” said Mayor Pontieri, “Your immigration status does not determine how we provide services to protect your rights and ensure your health and safety.”
Jose Hernandez of the Patchogue-Medford Library tells Long Island Wins the library is an important resource for many of these families, “We have so many relationships with the community, so we’re kind of the first place they can come if they have a general question about something, or we can refer people to different organizations, that’s why I think it was important for us to be [at this forum].”
However, as a local Ecuadorian artist who attended the event (but wished to remain anonymous) tells Long Island Wins he was hoping for more specific actions in the face of the new executive orders, as translated from Spanish: “They gave us all the resources they offer, but I would have liked if they had given a little more information on all the orders that are being passed. Perhaps, one-on-one, they can give us more information as well as what measures we can take. I think it’s very important that they try to give us more concrete information.”