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Long Island

Long Island groups: Trump immigration orders foster fear

Michelle Games, 3, of Bay Shore, joins members

Michelle Games, 3, of Bay Shore, joins members of various community groups, led by the Long Island Unity Collaborative, for a news conference Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, at the Muslim Center of Bay Shore. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Advocates representing immigrants, women’s groups and minority communities joined members of a Bay Shore mosque Thursday to condemn immigration enforcement orders from President Donald Trump that they said will harm the most vulnerable.

“An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us,” said Alejandra Sorto, an organizer with the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, a Brentwood-based coalition that organized the news conference.

The orders, signed and unveiled Wednesday by the administration, authorize spending and actions to erect a wall along the southern border with Mexico while increasing the hiring of immigration enforcement agents, expanding detention of unauthorized immigrants and stepping up efforts to apprehend and remove immigrants with criminal records and those here illegally.

A ban on visas from specific Muslim-majority countries also is expected, as promised by Trump during the presidential campaign.

Those policies, consistent with Trump’s vows to curtail illegal entry and roll back other immigration policies, have stirred up concern in immigrant communities, where many are feeling targeted not only by the expected enforcement but by the climate of mistrust and fear they say it fosters.

The nearly 40 people at the Bay Shore gathering said the orders and statements from Trump will be countered by their campaign for unity, with Latinos, Muslims, Jewish, LGBTQ and women’s reproductive rights advocates joining so far what they’re calling the Long Island Unity Collaborative.

Trump’s emphasis on pursuing enforcement and limiting the influx of people from Muslim-majority countries labeled as terror threats betray the values of this nation, those advocates said.

Muhammad Abdul Jabbar, imam of the Majid Darul Qur’an mosque in Bay Shore, also known as The Muslim Center of Long Island, said the Trump administration’s actions send a negative message.

“The negative perceptions and associations created by these executive orders will very likely cause a further increase in hate crimes, discrimination and bigotry against ordinary, law-abiding American Muslims, the Latinos and other minorities,” Jabbar said.

Other advocates said they would continue to protest, march, try to engage voters in minority communities and lobby local and state officials to create a firewall against the federal enforcement push.

However, proponents of increased enforcement against illegal immigration don’t see any problem with Trump’s orders so far.

“It’s not un-American for Trump to do what he’s doing,” said Barrett Psareas, vice president of the Nassau County Civic Association, a residents’ group that opposes high taxation and illegal immigration. “He’s enforcing what Congress has already authorized” in building the wall and acting on immigration laws.

“What he’s doing with the deportations now is if you’ve committed a crime, you’re out. Are families going to be split up? Yeah, but it was not anybody’s fault here that people decided to come illegally,” Psareas added.

Immigrants’ advocates contend the matter is not as simple as just deporting criminals, because the definition of who is deemed a criminal under Trump’s orders is a matter of debate, and even those charged with crimes should be given due process before they’re ousted, said Irma Solis, director of the Suffolk County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Maryann Slutsky, executive director of immigrant-advocacy group Long Island Wins, said the aggressive enforcement should concern all Americans.

The executive orders “were created with a complete and total lack of compassion,” Slutsky said. “These executive orders are not based on national security. They are based on Islamophobia and xenophobia. . . . We are one America. We are one Long Island and we can do better than this.”

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