Long Island, NY — On a press call today, local community leaders made it clear that what Long Island needs is for local leaders, elected officials, and law enforcement to come together to address the community’s challenges, not a politically-motivated visit by the divisive Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A Sessions visit is more likely to inflame tensions and demonize immigrants than to offer needed help and seems aimed at scoring political points rather than helping to bring the local community together.
The call was complemented by a unity letter from Islip residents and representatives from local organizations, available online here. A recording of today’s call is available here.
Assemblyman Phil Ramos, said:
If Mr. Sessions wants to come to our communities to link these tragedies to Mr. Trump’s message that immigrants by their nature have an intrinsic propensity to be criminals, he should stay in Washington DC. Using the recent tragedies to justify immigration raids will hurt the police department’s ability to solve crimes. By doing so, witnesses will be reluctant to come forward. As a result of President Trump’s past attempt to turn Patriotism into Hateriotism, there is not much trust that exists within our communities.
Ana, Community Member, Make the Road New York, said:
I have lived in the United States and in Brentwood for ten years, and I have children in the Brentwood school district. Instead of protecting us, Attorney General Sessions is coming to Long Island to instill fear in us and reaffirm his commitment to separating our families. We hope that our local and federal police can better understand our children and our families and not criminalize them. We don’t need the policies that AG Sessions in proposing; we need more resources for our youth. As a mother and as a worker in this community, I demand that the federal and local government support our communities and not instill fear.
Sister Rosalie Carven, Sisters of St. Joseph-Brentwood, said:
The Sisters of St. Joseph have lived in this community for more than 100 years, and I have lived here for 60 years. The Pope has said that immigrants are not ‘pawns on the chessboard of humanity.’ This is why I object to Attorney General Sessions demonizing the immigrant community, because he is describing the community in a way that none of us would even recognize. In reality, the number of people in this area who have committed crimes is very small, whereas the majority have lived here for 20, 30, 40 years and have worked hard, lived well, and supported their families. Attorney General Sessions is misrepresenting and criminalizing the whole community, and we need to tell the true narrative – the narrative of good and hardworking people.
David Leopold, Immigration Attorney and former President of AILA, said:
Since his confirmation, AG Sessions has used his office to conduct the Trump administration’s campaign of fear and misinformation about immigrants. Sessions has crisscrossed the country railing against states and cities that refuse to collaborate with ICE, falsely depicting them as nefarious zones of lawlessness where noncitizen criminals run rampant. Of course nothing could be further than the truth. Studies show that immigrants–documented and undocumented–are much less prone to crime than native born Americans. As the nation’s top law enforcement officer Sessions knows this. Sadly, it’s clear that Sessions’ visit to Long Island is not about policy, it’s about the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant politics and its effort to paint all immigrants as criminals. And that’s not only craven, it’s also treacherous.
Rahsmia Zatar, Executive Director of STRONG Youth, Inc., said:
The existence of gangs on Long Island is not a new phenomenon. Gangs have existed on Long Island for decades as a direct result of the segregation the region is known for. People of color have been pushed into certain communities, communities where corruption has been allowed to fester and the resources and opportunities our youth need to succeed have never existed. That’s what’s at the core of gang crime. Not immigration. And the fact that this Administration and certain local politicians and law enforcement has decided to wage a war against a group which has existed for decades in this region is a clear indication they are seizing the chance to use the pain of these families and communities to push forth their political, racist agendas.