The Disappointing Failure Of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to Protect Immigrants

(Photo/Nassau County)

Last year’s large-scale increase in ICE detentions on Long Island, and the cooperation of Nassau County law enforcement in turning immigrants over to ICE, led to unprecedented panic in our local immigrant communities.

Long Island immigrants were stunned and frightened by the arrest of a man stopped initially for allegedly making a left turn without signaling that ultimately left him detained on an ICE non-judicial warrant by the Nassau Sheriff which led to his deportation just weeks later. Nassau police had not previously been in the habit of acting as ICE’s enforcers.

New York State law says that law enforcement can only detain people for suspected violations of New York State criminal laws. ICE detainers don’t even allege violations of any criminal laws, nor are they issued by a judge, yet here was the Nassau police violating state law to help ICE.

Last year, CARECEN filed a lawsuit against Nassau County to end the practice of holding people with no pending criminal issues for ICE. At the time, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano would not even meet to discuss police and ICE abuses. A supporter of Donald Trump, Mangano apparently believed that such arrests served his larger political goals, even as he faced a federal trial of his own for alleged corruption.

The election last year of Laura Curran over her openly anti-immigrant opponent Jack Martins raised hopes for change. Curran had done particularly well in election districts with large numbers of Hispanic voters, which had an unusually high turnout for an off-year election because of outrage at Martins’ targeting of Hispanic people in campaign literature.

Four months into her term, disappointment is growing over Curran’s failure to end the county’s support for ICE.

Although community and civil rights organizations have met with Curran and with Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder since February, calling for an end to detentions by the county for ICE removal, no action has been taken by the county executive.

At a time when state and local governments around the country are reassessing their law enforcement policies regarding ICE in light of the abusive detention of immigrants, Nassau is staying on the same Trump friendly track that Mangano put us on two years ago. The 140 days since Laura Curran took office has been more than enough time for her to have put in place basic protections for Nassau’s immigrants.

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