Immigration advocacy groups from Long Island held protests on January 8, denouncing plans by the Obama administration to deport Central American immigrants from the country. They called these deportations “inhumane and intimidating.”
On January 4, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that 121 illegal immigrants were rounded up and ready to be removed from the country. Although none of those were from Long Island, Walter Barrientos, Long Island coordinator of Make The Road New York, said the threat of deportation has had “a crippling effect in immigrant communities” on Long Island and that those who fear being kicked out of the country are not leaving their homes.
These groups argue that those who are here illegally will be hit the hardest by the federal government’s actions, as they come to the U.S. from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to escape crime, poverty and drug gang activity that has plagued their native countries. They come to Long Island, where they have friends and relatives.
Patrick Young, director of the Central American Refugee Center, said these immigrants should be treated as refugees, like those from Syria who are coming to the U.S. and Europe to escape their war-ravaged nation. “The United States must stop this inhumane policy [of deportation],” he said.
Rumors spread last weekend that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and local law enforcement conducted raids in Brentwood and Huntington Station looking for those who may be in this country illegally. ICE, the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments and New York State troopers denied these raids took place.
Barrett Psareas, vice president of the Nassau County Civic Association, said there have been a “very little” number of deportations and “too much hysteria on something that’s not going to happen.” He also wondered if the Obama administration is “trying to stoke the fire from both ends” of the immigration debate. “I mean, if they are, they are doing a good job at it.”
If you are seeking help on immigration matters or possibly facing deportation, call the experienced attorneys at Bretz & Coven, LLP at (212) 267-2555.