The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is demanding answers from federal and local agencies, including the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, on how they target suspected MS-13 gang members.
They are specifically digging, through freedom of information laws, into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) program called “Operation Matador,” which attempts to partner with local law enforcement agencies to target alleged gang members.
NYIC filed the requests Monday through the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as through New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). They have been directed at ICE, including their Enforcement and Removal Operations, as well as Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Suffolk and Nassau County Police Departments; and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
As Long Island Wins has previously reported, a series of ICE raids earlier this month netted 38 arrests on Long Island in a collaboration between feds and Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
“Thus far, no information about the formal policies or criteria that guide the identification of MS-13 members has been disclosed. What we have seen from recent cases is that the youth who face these accusations have had no access to due process,” said Susan Gottehrer, Chapter Director of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The impact of these arrests on the community is devastating and creates an extremely dangerous lack of trust between immigrant youth and the police, making it impossible for people to feel safe in their schools and in their homes.”
Critics and advocates have questioned how exactly ICE and local law enforcement determine their criteria of gang membership, in light of reports of those not gang-affiliated also being targeted.
In recent months, the NYIC and the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC) have partnered to gather information from immigration legal service providers on how ICE carries out gang enforcement on Long Island. In doing so, NYIC reports, gang enforcement is often used as an excuse to arrest immigrants or deny applications for benefits.
“…New York communities will not be safer if immigrants avoid local law enforcement for fear of being arbitrarily locked up and deported. MS13 is terrorizing immigrant communities that want to cooperate with law enforcement, but are increasingly too scared to do so,” said Camille Mackler, Director of Immigration Legal Policy at NYIC.