Voices in Focus: Most New Yorkers Detained by ICE Are Deported

Today we have a hearty roundup of stories from New York’s ethnic and community press, including a new report’s conclusion that 34,000 New Yorkers were detained by immigration authorities over a five-year period; credit unions for taxi drivers; a profile of a beloved Bronx bakery; a visit to the Irish Hunger Memorial; and a dispatch from the Bronx about how locals are reacting to President Barack Obama’s new immigration stance.

* Between 2005 and 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 91 percent of the 34,000 New Yorkers it detained, according to a new report by the Immigrant Defense Project, which filed Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the information. The report was co-released by the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic and Families for Freedom. El Diario and the Epoch Times were on the story.

“The top three nationalities of those detained by the ICE are from Mexico, El Salvador, and Dominican Republic,” the Epoch Times reported.

Four out of five New Yorkers in immigration detention were never given the opportunity to post bail, according to the report, despite ICE “having the discretion to set bond in 91% of the cases.”

* New York City’s taxi fleet has long been a foothold in the city’s economy for new immigrants, but becoming a taxi driver isn’t easy or cheap. These days a medallion will run you about $700,000. New York Press reported on the role that two specially designed credit unions have played for decades in helping cab drivers manage their finances — especially when other banks refused them loans.

Back in 1934, a group of owner/drivers banded together and formed the League of Mutual Taxi Owners Inc. In 1936, the group was granted a charter to form a federal credit union and later changed its name to LOMTO Federal Credit Union.

Lending to taxi drivers is a niche market, New York Press reported.

Rob Nemeroff, director of marketing for Melrose Credit Union, estimates that immigrant taxi drivers are roughly 20 percent African and West African, 20 percent South Asian, 20 percent Caribbean, 20 percent Eastern European and Middle Eastern and 20 percent Hispanic and from the Pacific Rim.

He said lending to the New York City medallion industry is a very niche market that only experienced organizations can handle. “We’ve been lending to New York City’s immigrant communities since 1922. We know the borrowers and we know the business—that’s why they all come to us,” he said.

He went on to say that credit union officials implore the drivers to be financially responsible. “We remind them that they’re buying a business,” Nemeroff said.

Debra Scacco (left) and Theresa Loong, two of three recipients of a new artist-in-residence program, on Ellis Island. (Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer/Downtown Express)

* The artist Debra Scacco and the video team of Theresa Loong and Laura Nova will examine historical immigration through New York during an artist-in-residence program this summer on Liberty and Ellis Islands, Downtown Express reported.

Their award gives them unparalleled access to the park’s museums, library, oral histories, archives and behind-the-scenes collections. Each artist will create artworks from this experience and will also present hour-long public programming during their residencies.

* Aidan McGrattan, an Irish high school student, recently visited the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City. He reported his impressions in the Irish Echo.

With its crumbling building and familiar vegetation, actually taken from Emerald Isle itself, the memorial is quite literally a slab of Ireland within the boundaries of New York City.

It was this familiarity, combined with the haunting words regarding the Great Hunger emblazoned on its modern exterior that created the eerie and reflective atmosphere that was surely intended by its designers.

* The Mott Haven Herald reported on how President Obama’s new stance on immigration could affect the Latino population of the Bronx.

Up to 1.4 million undocumented immigrants could benefit from scaled-back enforcement, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Mexicans comprise nearly 30 percent of the South Bronx’s Hispanic population, and are the city’s fastest-growing immigrant group, according to the 2010 US Census.

* An lastly, Hunts Point Express ran a profile, including the photo slide show above, of Valencia Bakery, which has been serving up its speciality since 1948: “soft yellow cake with three-layers of pineapple filling, topped with sugar icing and decorated with popular cartoon characters and edible, colored flowers siblings fought over.”

“I grew up eating these cakes since I was a little brat,” grinned Melrose resident Luis Rodriguez, 42, while buying one. “I’ve tried a lot of cakes and I think this is one of the best.”

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