Members of the Long Island immigrant community and their supporters are applauding a local law enforcement decision to just say no when it comes to immigration detentions in Suffolk County.
Amol Sinha directs the Suffolk Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. He expects the decision by Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco to have statewide reach.
“It’s very, very important localities all around the state follow suit from Suffolk County and make sure we are not detaining people unlawfully and we are protecting constitutional rights all around the state,” Sinha says.
Sheriff DeMarco’s decision sends a particularly strong message, according to Sinha, that will impact thousands, because Suffolk County was second only to New York City in the number of individuals being held on so-called ICE “detainers.”
Central Islip resident Fernando Sosa, whose organization Make the Road New York participated in talks with Sheriff DeMarco, credits the sheriff with responding to changing times and the needs of the local immigrant community.
“He’s aware of the changes this country is going through,” says Sosa. “Not everybody is a criminal. These people deserve an opportunity to legalize their status.”
Sinha says the courts have been clear that towns and cities can be held liable for civil rights violations even when they are acting at the request of Immigration agents.
“Holding onto somebody for even a minute, if there’s no judicial warrant or finding of probable cause, is a constitutional violation and a locality can be held liable,” says Sinha.
Sepa Mujer, The Empire Justice Center and Long Island Jobs with Justice also applauded the decision.
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