ICE Circus Travels to Upstate New York to Try to Bully State Into Dropping Green Light

Protesters from local groups and the New York Immigration Coalition denounced the ICE attempt to spread fear of immigrants in Troy.

Matthew T. Albence, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), showed up in Troy across the river from Albany to fulfill his role as Donald Trump’s enforcer against New York State for having the temerity to pass the Green Light Driver’s License law. Since Trump beat the impeachment rap he has deployed the force of the Federal government in a campaign of revenge against his enemies unmatched since the Nixon Administration.

Troy is the county seat of Rensselaer County. Its political leadership has been among the most anti-immigrant in the state. Although less than 6% of the population of the county are immigrants, conservative politicians there have been exploiting racial fears since Trump became president. Law enforcement there have the only 287g agreement in New York authorizing county officers to carry out immigration enforcement.

Matthew T. Albence told the press that Green Light would encourage terrorism and Anti-Semitic attacks like the one that took place at a rabbi’s home in Monsey last year. There is absolutely no link between Green Light and any of the evils warned about by Albence. He did not do to Troy out of a concern for national security, he went there at the behest of his boss to foster an irrational fear of immigrants and to interfere in the internal politics of New York State. This is entirely improper behavior for the head of a Federal agency who is paid by the taxpayers.

Unfortunately we can expect more of this sort of bullying. Homeland Security and its immigration-related agencies have seen constant leadership turnover for three full years now. Nearly everyone in leadership positions is in an “acting” capacity. Even the half dozen heads of the Department of Homeland Security have only lasted an average of six months before being fired, pushed out, or quitting. At this point, new appointees no longer have the qualification to pass Senate confirmation, even in a Republican Senate, and they seem to serve only at the president’s pleasure. And what pleases the president is using them as political hit-men.

The ICE Show was met with protests from local residents who insisted that Green Light made New York safer by allowing immigrants to take driver’s education, requiring them to pass the permitting test, and the licensing road test.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.