Op-Ed: In Ossining… “The Iceman Cometh”

In 1939, playwright Eugene O’Neill wrote “The Iceman Cometh” and waited for seven years before staging it. Reports are that he was concerned about how it would be received, and when finally performed in New York City in 1946 at the Martin Beck Theatre, it ran for 136 performances. By that time O’Neill had garnered a solid reputation, and his dark and tragic play was a commercial success, yet received mixed reviews.

Over a period of time the play fell out of favor as American theatre and audiences changed along with the social and political shifts. Like all pendulums it swung back into favor. The ageless yearning of down-and-out characters for lives they dreamt about and the lives they ended up with has O’Neill’s play now considered a classic.

For the purpose of this brief piece, only the title of the play has importance. For nineteen-year-old Diego Ismael Puma Macancela of Ossining, the ICE man did come and took not only his Ecuadorian mother a day prior, but him as well, on June 8, 2017. The visit by ICE officers (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was based on a November 16, 2016 order by an immigration judge to remove both Puma and his mother for deportation. Barack Obama was President.

The Village of Ossining sent out the following media press release the next day, June 9th:

“Ossining Village Officials and the Ossining Police Department have worked hard to strengthen relationships between the immigrant community and local law enforcement. As a result of recent incidents involving federal immigration agencies in the Village, fear and anxiety is felt by many of our residents.

Thursday morning, federal immigration authorities initiated an investigation in our community. Local police were not notified of the location of this operation. It is also believed that this federal agency had been operating in the Village the previous day, again, without notifying the local police department.

The person taken into custody today by federal immigration authorities was a 19-year-old Ossining High School student. There was a final order of deportation that had been issued by an immigration judge. We believe this individual had been permitted to remain in the United States for several years while his case was reviewed.

Mayor Gearity states, “Village of Ossining local law enforcement and elected officials continue to strive for improved communication with Ossining’s immigrant community. It is our hope that federal agencies will properly notify the Ossining Police Department whenever they are working in the community, and keep the department up to date as circumstances change. Ensuring that residents feel safe in our community, and will report crimes and seek assistance from the local police department, is essential for keeping everyone in Ossining safe.”

The Mayor’s comments about ICE agents not notifying Ossining’s Police Department about their activities has been questioned, and regardless of whether they did or did not, ICE acted. Much name calling and predictable Trump trashing has since taken place by Democratic elected officials and human rights activists regarding the deportation order – an order and court ruling that occurred on November 16, 2016 when Barack Obama was President.

Referred to as the “Deporter-in-Chief” (a name given him by a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group) –  between 2009 and 2015 it is reported that former President Barack Obama’s administration “removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, which doesn’t include the number of people who “self-deported or were turned away and/or returned to their home country at the border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

We close with two quotes from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American politician, sociologist  and member of the Democratic Party. He served as a Senator from New York for 24 years.

“Am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect democracy? Not one bit. Find me a better one. Do I suppose there are societies which are free of sin? No, I don’t. Do I think ours is, on balance, incomparably the most hopeful set of human relations the world has? Yes, I do.”

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts.”

—  Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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