Senate Hearing on MS-13 Should Focus on Building Trust, Not Scapegoat Immigrants

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
May 24, 2017 11:30 am

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The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing today entitled “Border Insecurity: The Rise of MS-13 and Other Transnational Criminal Organizations.” The hearing includes testimony from Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Suffolk County Police Department entered into a settlement, following the 2009 murder of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue, New York. It required the department to adopt new policies to ensure Latino communities in Suffolk receive the police services to which they are entitled. The Suffolk police and community members have worked tirelessly for the past two years to establish a new era of trust. That trust is essential to solve violent crimes like the recent murders attributed to MS-13.

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director, Donna Lieberman said:

“We reject any attempt to exploit the very real challenges of gang-related violence in Suffolk County to further the Trump regime’s bigoted, anti-immigrant agenda. If immigrant witnesses and victims of crime believe that the police are collaborating with federal immigration officials, they will be scared to come forward. The Suffolk County Police Department must re-commit to building trust with Latino communities in order to combat the recent wave of violence. That includes a promise to disentangle its local law enforcement efforts from federal immigration enforcement. Police officers must be able to focus on fighting crime, not enforcing federal immigration laws.”

NYCLU Suffolk County Chapter Director, Irma Solis said:

“The most important way to combat gang-related violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. We want to see investment in quality education, youth programming, jobs and housing in Suffolk County. We need gang intervention strategies that avoid criminalization and surveillance of Latino youth in Suffolk County. And we must have schools that stand against anti-immigrant bullying and that welcome young people of all backgrounds.”

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