DA hotline tips drop after immigration busts on Long Island
Long Island and the New York metro area has seen a 31-percent increase in arrests of immigrants for deportation in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"What's particularly disturbing about the increase in arrests that's gone on in the last three months is that the arrests have particularly been targeting those who have no criminal histories, those who have not done anything wrong in this country," said attorney Patrick Young with the nonprofit Central American Refugee Center. He said undocumented immigrants are becoming victims of crime and they're not reporting them out of fear of deportation.
The Nassau County District Attorney's Office of Immigrant Affairs hotline used to get several calls a week but that has changed.
"Last year we had over 50 calls. This year we had two," Nassau County DA Madeline Singas said. "So it's a drastic reduction in the amount of people who are reaching out."
Calls to report crimes are important because they give leads to investigators. Nassau County and Suffolk County insist their tip lines are kept confidential. Immigration advocates say raids should target criminals. But Rep. Peter King, a Republican who represents a large immigrant community, said he supports Trump's policy.
"These deportations are absolutely necessary," King said. "I wish leaders in the community would tell the people living in the community this is to benefit them more than anyone because more than 75 percent of those who are deported are criminals."
A spokesperson for ICE said officers are sensitive to the needs of victims and witnesses of crimes. "ICE officers will take into consideration if an individual is the immediate victim or witness to a crime in determining whether to take enforcement action," ICE said in a statement. "Particular attention is paid to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking or other serious crimes."
Out of the 525,000 immigrants on Long Island, children are suffering the most, advocates said.
"They're not letting their kids go to local recreation centers," Young said. "They're not letting them stay late for after-school tutoring. They're not letting them go to the parks or beaches."
Raids also impact the economy when people are less likely leave home. An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 undocumented immigrants live on Long Island.