The New York Immigration Coalition, its members, faith leaders and community members rallied Wednesday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Penn Yan to demand a timely investigation after a trooper violated a policy that prohibits state police from acting as immigration authorities.
On June 29, the unidentified trooper stopped a vehicle for a seat belt violation in the area. After ticketing the driver, the trooper arrested a passenger wearing a seat belt for failing to carry identification and held him for immigration officers to assume custody. He is now facing deportation.
“This incident is a clear example of what happens when local law enforcement collaborates with immigration: families are torn apart, a dedicated worker is deported, and an entire community is terrorized,” said Meghan Maloney de Zalvidar, Member Engagement Manager at the New York Immigration Coalition.
Advocates noted that while they were pleased to hear that the State government opened an investigation, they stressed the importance of transparency, accountability and effective communication with the public.
“When people are afraid to interact with law enforcement because of immigration status, the entire community’s safety is placed at risk,” Maloney said.
“While we are grateful the state created this policy, we are disappointed that 5 weeks after the incident, we still do not know if the trooper will face consequences,” said Carly Fox of the Worker Justice Center of New York. “We expect the governor to be consistent in his application of this policy and in his support for immigrants by sending a clear message to all state troopers that we will not carry out a Trump agenda in our State.”
Attendees also said they were rallying to bring attention to the effects of collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration officials.
“The result of this and other similar actions is that families are split up and the community deprived is of productive workers who pay taxes and live peacefully in our county," said Reverend Dan Burner, who leads the church where the rally was held. “We demand that these actions be investigated and that the officers who violate established protocols are disciplined.”
“Law enforcement detains good people who just want to work for this country and our families. When they do this, it's not just one person who is affected, they hurt all of our family and all of our loved ones,”said a family member of the man facing deportation who did not want to be identified by name. “Without immigrants, there would be no fruit, vegetables or milk on the table. We are the ones who work hard to provide healthy food and to grow New York’s economy. We are calling on the state of New York and this whole country to stop racism and all discrimination!”
Pictures from the rally can be viewed here.
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.