Sooo........aren't they violating the law by aiding the illegals, isn't ignoring crime a felony for a LEO?
Immigration officials admit day rounding up illegal day laborers are not a priority
BREWSTER - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials admitted to a group of Putnam County leaders that the rounding up of illegal day laborers is not a priority.
Last week's session conducted behind closed doors in Carmel was attended by representatives of the federal agency as well as Brewster Mayor John Degnan, Brewster treasurer Mike Santos, Sheriff Donald Smith and members of his staff including Capt. William McNamara and William Spain, Southeast Supervisor John Dunford and Councilman Richard Honeck, Brewster Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Deborah Gregory, representatives of Congresswoman Sue Kelly and Denis Castelli, a member of Team Brewster.
While the meeting was closed to the public and press, the Courier obtained minutes of the meeting recorded by Brewster Village Clerk Bernadette Mortabano.
James Mooney, representing ICE, told the gathering that his agency was created following the 9-11 attacks. "Our priorities are national security. People linked to terrorism are number one. We are looking at the borders with interior enforcement - places that would be harmed by illegal terrorists working in places like nuclear power plants and airports. We are dealing with the criminal alien element. We can't be everything for everybody."
Mooney admitted that his agency had received a "tremendous amount of criticism" for overlooking illegal day laborers congregating on village streets. "Our goal is to get a handle on the criminal aliens in New York. ICE does not make sweeps. We don't do round ups. We are sensitive to profiling and are trying to find a balance with the local police and the county to open lines of communication," he said.
ICE supervisor Salvatore D'Alessandro explained that the public had a misconception that any alien was allowed to be asked for his papers. "We cannot do that. There must be reasonable suspicion with facts that someone is here illegally. The aliens come to placesd like Brewster to work and they send money home to their families. If the job magnet was not there, there wouldn't be a problem," he said.
Sheriff Smith told the group that he and his staff had been working very closely with ICE. "There is immigration law and there are the laws of New York State. People mix the two and promote political agendas or use the law enforcement as the poster child for their agenda. My oath and my mission is to enforce the law. When talking about the Brewster schools, it is not about immigration. It is about the safety of school children. Immigration laws can have an impact on the environment but that's not for me to decide," he said.
The meeting was called following the arrest of eight Hispanic day laborers who were charged with trespass for playing soccer at the Garden Street School field when classes were in session.
Mayor Degnan called on President George Bush to create a graduated amnesty program for resident aliens. The mayor wrote: "The first generation historically is always fraught with tension between the old ways and assimilation. The dynamics of the Hispanic immigration may differ from others but ultimately our country will be better served by their contributions. Intelligent, compassionate decision making is required. This topic is akin to the abolition of slavery. The right side is obvious. Is it not smarter to expand the tax base through conferring legal status than to continue spending tax dollars on fear?"
Dr. Gregory cited not only local coverage of the illegal immigrants found in Brewster but the national reporting as well. "Our school has been on the 'O'Reilly Report.' This has turned into an issue of intolerance which is not what it is about."
Castelli said the approach that Team Brewster has taken was to "embrace these men. If you want them out of your community, stop hiring them. If you are not willing to refrain from hiring these men, don't treat them as slaves."
That must be what happened in france and all the other european countries, "first generation blues"