Port Chester Immigrants Demand Police Not Collaborate With ICE

Councilman Luis Marino explains to the community that he fully supports immigrants and that he opposes ICE’s request. (Photo via Westchester Hispano)

A group of Port Chester residents, mostly immigrants, asked the village’s police chief to annul a request for collaboration between the police department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is in charge of deportations.

Board of trustees member Luis Marino said that he rejects the proposal because it could put immigrant families in danger. “I completely oppose this collaboration because the town and my immigrant people come first. I will do everything in my power to prevent the board from passing this,” said Marino, deputy mayor of Port Chester, during a community meeting to decry the bill.

Marino explained that ICE is offering to help Port Chester with three officers and asks the police department to collaborate with them directly and to allow them to review the records of residents. “That would be detrimental to undocumented immigrants. That would mean giving ICE a green light.”

ICE’s request will be evaluated at the board of trustees’ Wednesday, July 5, session. Marino expects the rest of the members to oppose it as well, as immigrants would be in danger should the board approve it by a majority.

Police Chief Richard Conway attended Thursday night’s meeting, held at St. Peter’s Church, and said that, although the document has been submitted to the board, he is in favor of immigrants because his own family came from abroad.

“I am preparing my recommendations on this request, and I want to assure you that community relations are of utmost importance to me and my team. Were it not so, we could not do our job,” he said, explaining that the proposal was sent this year by ICE to every municipality in the area.

Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway spoke and listened to the community. (Photo via Westchester Hispano)

Jorge Chocoj, pastor at El Shaddai Ministries, called for unity to repudiate the plan, citing that “innocent people are vulnerable in this situation. That is why we are here to resist and to reject the plan.”

Rolando Escobar, president of Centro Cultural Bolivia, said: “We think that this goes against civil rights and, as immigrants, we are going to feel even more discriminated. We are sending a letter to demand that this request be denied, because the people of Port Chester would feel intimidated and would not trust the police authorities.”

During the meeting, members of the community told Conway that, while it is true that the town residents and the authorities trust each other, this relationship would come to an end if the rule is approved.

Luis Yumbla, director of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition, explained that an online petition was created to ask the authorities to annul the proposal, and the community has been called to gather on Wednesday, July 5, at St. Peter’s to organize and march to the court, where the members of the board of trustees will meet to discuss the possibility of establishing a collaboration with ICE.

“We call on the community to raise its voice and resist. On July 5, we will be here at St. Peter’s to organize and then walk together to the court, in rejection of ICE’s plan to obtain more collaboration from our local police,” said Yumbla.

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