Photo by Mark Hallum
Queens residents rallied to urge representatives in Albany to pass legslation making New York a sanctuary state.
By Mark Hallum

The newly redesigned Corona Plaza had its first immigrant rally last week with state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) unveiling a bill calling for the establishment of New York as a sanctuary state for immigrants, as well as the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Peralta said his support for the dismantling of ICE was not an endorsement of open borders, but a motion to scrap the agency entirely and replace it with a new and better apparatus for controlling immigration.

“The current environment that we’re living in is that immigrants are under attack. Number 45 is putting all the power of the federal administration behind these assaults on immigrant communities like ours,” Peralta said. “We have all seen images of children being separated from their parents at the border. This is inhumane, it’s grotesque. A pizza delivery worker was arrested at a military base just a few miles from here for doing his job. Delivering a pie of pizza.”

Peralta’s bill, introduced in the Legislature by state Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from acting in concert with ICE to arrest and detain immigrants within state lines.

But the bill being introduced by the two pols goes a step further, according to Peralta.

New York state would additionally be barred from entering any contract with the federal government for the purpose of detaining and deporting immigrants.

“It is absolutely critical for all New Yorkers to stand up with our immigrant neighbors and draw a clear line against federal immigration attacks against our cities and communities. We cannot allow our own law enforcement agencies to assist these efforts without common sense guidelines,” Ortiz said in a statement.

Emira Habiby Browne, who founded the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans in Astoria, put the support of her organization behind the bill at the state level and the resolution by Peralta, urging Congress to abolish ICE.

“As the host society, it is our duty to fight against separation of children from their parents, and the detentions and deportations of hardworking immigrants, many running from violence and trauma in their home countries seeking a safer and better future for their families. Instead we must provide our new immigrants with the tools and opportunities to contribute their skills and talents and to build stronger communities,” Browne said.

Franco Arroyo, executive assistant to the Dominico-American Society of Queens in Corona, said hundreds of families have come to the organization he represents with worry on their minds in the face of potential ICE raids and arrests across the city.

“The Dominico-American Society of Queens has also had the privilege of going to the Mexican border a couple of months ago where we have seen families who have already been separated,” Arroyo said. “While this may be a temporary separation, it’s still a very difficult process for them… It is a disgrace what this administration has done by forcibly separating families at the borders and cracking down on these immigrants who have come here in search of a better life.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall[email protected]glocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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