Over a 100 people gathered on October 22nd at the Yonkers Riverfront Library for a panel discussion exploring “Police, ICE, and Immigrant Safety in Westchester County.”
Panelists included Westchester County First Deputy Commissioner of Correction Louis Molina, Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway, Police Commissioner John Mueller of Yonkers, and White Plains Police Chief Joseph Castelli.
The police leaders on the panel were united in emphasizing that immigrant residents should feel safe contacting police either for help or to report a crime, without fear of arrest or deportation of themselves or loved ones. They stressed that ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) is not involved in their police work. Moreover, in almost all cases, they will not respond to the administrative (“desk”) warrants which comprise the vast majority of warrants issued by ICE.
Yonkers Police Commissioner Mueller stated “Our undocumented population must be made aware that if you are a victim of a crime, in a vehicle accident or need the police in any way, they can rest assured that ICE has not and will not be part of the Yonkers Police Department’s
equation of solving the problem at hand.”
First Deputy Commissioner Molina shared how the bipartisan Immigration Protection Act (IPA) signed by Westchester County Executive George Latimer increased trust and cooperation between Westchester County residents and law enforcement. He stressed the importance to public safety of collaboration between community partners and County Law Enforcement Agencies.
The IPA position is clearly stated on the Westchester County website: “It shall be the policy of the Department of Correction to abstain from (i) performing the duties of Federal Immigration Authorities; (ii) engaging in the enforcement of federal immigration law; and/or (iii) accepting requests from Federal Immigration Authorities to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”
Joining the police officials on the panel were Jessica Young, Esq., Westchester Supervising Attorney, Make the Road New York, and Diana Sanchez of the Yonkers Sanctuary Movement. The panel was moderated by Vanessa Agudelo of the New York Immigration Coalition. Community members had a the opportunity to engage in a robust discussion with law enforcement officials. Spanish language translation was provided to those who attended.