WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday weighed in from the White House on Nassau County’s decision to relocate a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office from the County Correctional Center, calling it a move by “the really radical Democrats.”
Trump, speaking to reporters before a meeting with conservative leaders focused on immigration, did not specifically name Nassau County or its Democratic County Executive Laura Curran, but broadly mentioned the controversy over the move.
“I see on Long Island they don’t want ICE, the radical Democrats don’t want ICE there because they’re too good, they’re doing too good of a job,” Trump said. “And I always talk about Long Island, that’s one of the real hotbeds for the MS-13 gangs and I’ve just seen this morning where the really radical Democrats don’t want them [ICE] there because they don’t want them to do anything to disturb MS-13.”
Curran responded in a statement: “The President is creating fake news about Nassau County. We ask that he focus on the 15,000 Long Islanders and their families already affected by the government shutdown. Get the government open! We will continue to work with all of our federal partners, including ICE, to keep all our communities safe from gang violence.”
In an interview Wednesday, Curran said, “I was stunned that he’s speaking about Nassau County from the White House. when we’re in day 33 of a government shutdown, and clearly he doesn’t know the facts. He’s creating fear about violent MS-13 gang members being released into our communities … the very simple fact is we’re relocating some field officers from a dilapidated trailer to an office a quarter-mile away.”
On Tuesday, Curran had announced that ICE agents would be allowed to occupy office space at the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, an offer that was extended after her administration initially ordered agents to vacate the county’s correctional facility by the end of the month without offering a substitute location.
Curran’s initial order sparked criticism from the county’s law enforcement union, which organized a protest in Mineola on Wednesday condemning the removal of six federal immigration enforcement agents from the jail grounds.
The county, in a letter to ICE officials delivered earlier this month, ordered they vacate a trailer office on the correctional facility campus, citing an appellate court ruling against a Suffolk policy of holding individuals under federal warrants.
In November, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court ruled 4-0 that “the retention of prisoners, who would otherwise be released, pursuant to ICE detainers and administrative warrants is unlawful.”
“We want to make sure that we’re complying with the law and we’re aligning what we’re doing with that law,” Curran said after the initial letter was sent. “We’re still going to work with our federal partners where it is appropriate. Nassau County is tough on crime.”