By Jacqueline Escobar
Susan Gottehrer, the director of the Nassau County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), spoke about immigration issues affecting many students in the community on Feb. 20. Her organization provides training to immigrant communities to be aware of “what the issue is of, who is responsible, and who has choices to make,” she said. The talk, arranged by Amy Freedman, chairperson of the political science department, was held in the End Zone in Hillwood Commons, and attended by over 20 students.
Gottehrer discussed the important issues that immigrants face when Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) arrive to detain undocumented individuals.
“Police in Nassau County are working with them and we are advocating for our local police to stop afiliating with ICE; in order for the police to do their jobs effectively, they have to have the community’s trust,” Gottehrer said.
Gottehrer mentioned the issues that an undocumented immigrant faces when approached by authorities.
“The police and the undocumented person will talk to each other, then the local data base will link up to federal and ICE agents and then the person’s undocumented status will be revealed,” she said.
“Language-barriers also is a present issue when ICE knocks on their doors,” she said. They often can’t stand up for themselves.
Gottehrer added that Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) are being improperly used to label many immigrants today in the U.S.
“There are people in the immigrant communities who run away from MS13 and they are frightened; because of the loss of TPS and DACA, people are becoming nationless. Removal of bodies are happening in this country and if this is happening, it better be happening constitutionally,” Gottehrer said.
The NYCLU’s message to authorities, Gottehrer said, is “If what you are doing is constitutionally ok, then it is ok for us to question.”
Gottehrer provided students with procedures that immigrants should be taking if ICE approaches their homes.