Advocates launched last-minute efforts Thursday to inform Long Islanders at risk of deportation as federal agents geared up for Sunday’s planned nationwide raids to remove those in the United States illegally.
“This administration has forgotten that this country was built by immigrants,” said Sharon Golden, co-administrator of Together We Will Long Island, which is holding a rally Friday in Garden City to protest the conditions of detention for migrants at the nation’s southern border.
“Unless one is Native American, we are all descendants of immigrants,” she said. “And to use fear tactics, threats and strong-arm tactics to hurt immigrants who are here in this country working, paying taxes and trying to be part of our country and civilization, basically, is cruel.”
Other advocates for immigrants said they are trying to inform immigrants of their rights if agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show up at their doors.
President Donald Trump’s administration is moving forward with plans to launch the raids in as many as 10 major U.S. cities starting Sunday.
Long Island-area groups were already set to participate in events Friday as part of "Lights for Liberty," a series of vigils and rallies in hundreds of locations across the globe and the United States. Along with Garden City, other events are planned for Long Island, including in Patchogue and Huntington.
The news of the raids, leaders said, gave the worldwide event greater meeting.
“We are outraged about the way in which these raids are taking place and specifically how our communities are being targeted here,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of Align, a Manhattan-based coalition of labor and community organizations. “We want to let the administration and ICE know that our communities in New York City and New York State will be protected and we are all there for each other but also to ensure that they know that we are a sanctuary city and a sanctuary state. It makes tomorrow more important, more relevant to the current moment.”
In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said state leaders will not tolerate the raids.
"This politically motivated directive is despicable and inhumane," Cuomo said, "and New York will fight it."
State Attorney General Letitia James, also in a statement, said the "Trump administration's insistence on using
migrant families as a bargaining chip with Congressional leaders is as deplorable as it is unAmerican."
Dulce Rojas, senior organizer for the Patchogue-based SEPA Mujer, described immigrants paralyzed by fear of deportation about three years ago, when a similar threat of ICE raids swept through Suffolk. At the time, Rojas said, the group worked diligently to dispel rumors of the raids and organized a march to assert immigrant rights.
“ICE really has no boundaries. They will lie and deceive and there’s really not much that we can do except tell people that they have to know their rights and document everything — and hope for the best,” Rojas said, adding that she will participate in a Lights for Liberty event in Patchogue in front of the office of Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).
Zeldin, in a statement Friday, said: "ICE's past enforcement actions have prioritized criminals who have murdered, raped, dealt drugs, joined gangs, and engaged in sex trafficking and other forms of human trafficking. That should continue to be the priority. With that being said, I'm still awaiting details on this particular plan to learn what may be different from past practices in order to comment further with knowledge of the specifics."
Eliana Fernandez, lead organizer of Make the Road New York on Long Island, said the raids are a continuation of the federal government's immigration policy.
"At this point, I am not surprised," she said. "The Trump administration continues to use these tactics to terrorize our community. We will continue educating them about their rights."
Dr. Eve Krief, a pediatrician based in Huntington, said the event she is organizing in the town will be a candlelight vigil featuring folk singers and teenagers holding placards and reading testimonies of teens and children detained at the southern border.
“It’s another way of terrorizing and criminalizing immigrants many of whom have lived here for many years," Krief said of the ICE plan. "It’s unnecessary. It’s cruel and we should be looking for ways to keep families together instead of tearing them apart.” With AP