In two separate developments, Long Island police departments struggle to faithfully protect and serve the immigrant community in a long-running disconnect that exacerbates strained relationships between immigrant residents and law enforcement.
On Fox News this past Wednesday, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder conflated immigrants with gang members in a discussion on MS-13.
“A lot of these individuals are day laborers that go out, they work during the day, and then they’re doing the gang stuff at night,” he said on the program.
As host Brian Kilmeade acknowledges, MS-13 primarily targets “working class communities,” which Ryder confirms. However, what they leave out is that these communities are often made up of immigrants themselves, who are extremely reluctant to report crimes to police because of ongoing reports of heavy-handed collaboration with federal immigration enforcement agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
And, as Long Island Wins’ Pat Young recently wrote, ProPublica published a damning report that showed that Suffolk County police ignored immigrant families as they pleaded with police to investigate the disappearances of their children. Police even denied one concerned father’s repeated requests for an interpreter, as captured in a secretly recorded video. According to Suffolk County Police Department policy, providing an interpreter is mandatory when requested.
Since the ProPublica report, Suffolk lawmakers have pressed the police department for an investigation into the situation surrounding the video and immigrant families’ ignored requests for help.
“This is something that the committee is not taking lightly,” said Suffolk legislator Monica Martinez at a legislative panel on Thursday. “This is something that we’re going to make sure that we get our questions answered.”
The video presents hard evidence of what immigrants and advocates have long suspected: that Nassau and Suffolk police routinely discount immigrants’ public safety concerns. Meanwhile, their relationship with agencies like ICE create a community policing void that undermines a fundamental element in keeping our community at-large safe.