NYIC Slams Rep. Zeldin Bill Targeting Long Island Immigrants

February 20th, 2018

New Legislation to Revoke Naturalization for Unlawfully Racially-Profiled Immigrants

NEW YORK, NY - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) introduced legislation that revokes citizenship for immigrants involved in gang activity prior to or within 10 years of becoming naturalized.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

“This bill is shameless political posturing. It will actually cripple public safety, while demonizing Long Island’s thousands of hard-working immigrants. As we’ve seen, ICE’s so-called gang affiliation is often based on arbitrary criteria that needlessly criminalizes young immigrant men of color, as opposed to targeting actual criminals. Rep Zeldin’s proposed legislation would do nothing to help public safety and impede law abiding immigrants from getting their hard-won citizenship, while further undermining trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.”


In November 2017, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to multiple federal and state agencies for documents relating to Operation Matador, an ICE program that partners with federal and local law enforcement to target gang members.

Operation Matador has targeted immigrants on Long Island suspected of being affiliated with the gang MS-13. It uses unknown criteria to define “gang affiliation,” “gang membership,” or “gang associate” and effectively profiles immigrant men of color. Over the course of several months, the NYIC and the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC) worked to gather information from immigration legal service providers on how ICE is carrying out gang enforcement on Long Island. Together, the NYIC and I-ARC have noticed that gang enforcement is often used as a pretext to arrest immigrants or deny applications for benefits, a belief that was confirmed through comments an ICE agent made to CBS News in November, 2017.