A group of immigrants and community advocates challenged Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s decision to house agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) at the Nassau University Medical Center.
The critic fear ICE is already preventing immigrants from accessing medical care on Long Island and housing ICE on the grounds of NUMC in East Meadow will increase community anxiety.
“We are concerned that women, children and families do not receive care that will save their lives due to the fear generated by the news that was published yesterday,” Angela Papalia, Adelphi’s social worker, of the support program and breast cancer hotline throughout New York State, told reporters during a news conference Thursday.
Curran’s decision to move ICE to the Medical Center came after she ordered them to leave a trailer in the nearby county jail following a recent court ruling barring the practice in Suffolk County. Local law enforcement unions and President Donald Trump had been critical of the move.
Susan Gottehrer, of the Civil Liberties Union, told the media that “it is not Laura Curran’s job to find a home for ICE. ”
Meanwhile, Melissa Figueroa, of the organization Defensores de Estudiantes Inmigrantes on Long Island (LIISA), said the that if parents are afraid to go to NUMC, they will not take their children to the medical attention they need.
Cheryl Keshner of the Empire Justice Center commented, “I have been working with immigrants in Nassau County for more than 30 years, and I must say that this is one of the most extravagant things I have seen.”
He also indicated that immigrants are already afraid to access government services due to the growing fear of ICE. This move by the county executive will only increase that fear, he said, without increasing anyone’s safety.
“I hear the concerns of dedicated advocates today,” Curran said. “We need real solutions that directly impact our immigrant communities. Washington needs a reasonable compromise with DACA, TPS and border security.”
“Nassau County is committed to protecting all of our residents and will work directly with all communities to ensure their safety and well-being,” she added. “Let me clarify this to our immigrant communities in Nassau County: I will not allow anything or anyone to interfere with access to medical care in the hospital. Quite the opposite and we will take immediate action.”
On Jan. 28, Curran reversed course and said the ICE trailer would remain at the jail.
“With the federal government reopened, I was able to speak with ICE personnel today about their plan for a more permanent location,” she said. “We agreed that personnel will remain at their current location in the trailer at the jail, pending their proposal for a new trailer away from the visitors’ center.”
She added that immigrants shouldn’t fear being deported at NUMC.
“There have been no deportation incidents in NUMC’s history – and I was confident the temporary field office’s location was separate and apart from patients and visitors,” she said. “However, I want to ensure that our immigrant community knows they can use NUMC without any worries.”
-Via Noticia Long Island