Nearly 100 residents and pro-immigrant advocates filled the Town of Southampton meeting room last week to ask the town council to pass legislation to regulate the way the Southampton Town Police Department interacts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Over 30 people addressed the board at the meeting, often becoming emotional, to tell the town’s leaders that the Latino community on the East End “lives in fear” due to the cooperation between the local police and ICE related to non-violent crimes and, on some occasions, because of the inconsistencies of local policy.
It is currently unclear whether the Southampton Police is complying with the administrative detention orders issued by ICE. Southampton Police Chief Steven Skrynecki has said in the past that they only do so in specific cases when a serious crime has occurred, but immigrant advocates argued that this is not always the case.
OLA of Eastern Long Island’s attorney Andrew Strong, who is also a human rights lawyer, urged the town council to order the Southampton Police to disobey ICE administrative detention orders.
He explained that these detentions do not comply with probable cause standards required by courts to issue court orders.
Strong also called on the council to instruct the police to reduce the amount of data it shares with ICE. He mentioned that this exchange of information exposes the town to “significant legal responsibility” and “debilitates the community.”
Rev. Karen Campbell, from the Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor, told the board that nothing had changed since residents made a similar request at a town council meeting held approximately a year and a half ago. (…)
Sister Mary Beth Moore, from the Centro Corazón de María in Hampton Bays, said that, since July, the heads of eight families have been deported for non-violent crimes and that those families were now separated, in fear, and financially unstable.
“The state and local police have no business complying with federal law,” said Sarah Burr, a resident of Southampton and a retired immigration judge. “I have seen a lot, and what I see today is worse than anything I have ever seen in terms of immigration law and of the application of immigration law.” Continue reading