Opponents Claim Cuomo Cop Plan Criminalizes Immigrant Youth

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Governor Cuomo. Photo: www.governor.ny.gov

Supporters of immigrant Long Islanders today condemned Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that police officers will be placed near schools prone to gang violence saying the move will criminalize young people given current anti-immigrants sentiments.

The Governor's announcement, which claims to be focused on making communities safer by tackling MS-13, will only further the federal targeting of immigrant communities putting them at risk of arrest and detention by Donald Trump's deportation dragnet, the critics say.

“The governor’s announcement will only serve to generate more fear among our children who are already feeling unsafe in schools and cause more avoidance of law enforcement due to their role in separating our families and criminalizing our youth with no safeguards," said Ana Quintanilla, Make the Road New York member, a Brentwood resident and parent of Brentwood School District students. "Instead of helping us as a community this comes to create more trauma for our youth.“

Make the Road New York has over 21,000 immigrant members; 1,100 on Long Island.

“After years of seeing progressives champion juvenile justice reforms like raise the age, and weakening the school to prison pipleline we are disheartened to hear the governor has decided to implement a school to deportation pipeline that will ultimately make all youth and communities less safe," said Rahsmia Zatar, Executive Director of STRONG YOUTH.

"The governor is inciting a war against gangs that can only lead to further marginalizing our vulnerable youth making them prime targets for recruitment. This is the exact opposite of what we all wish to see and need.“

"The Trump administration is doing everything it can to criminalize immigrants to justify tearing apart our families, and the Governor’s plan is tailor made to advance Trump’s despicable goals," said Walter Barrientos, Long Island Organizing Director for Make the Road New York.

"Meanwhile, the Governor has refused to use any of his considerable political muscle to pass legislation that will actually protect immigrant families and expand opportunities for immigrant youth, such as the Liberty Act, the New York State DREAM Act and paying the funds that the state has owed to these and other school districts to provide programs and support for students for more than a decade."

He added: "Right here in Brentwood, we have had students arrested and put in immigrant detention just for wearing the wrong color t-shirt to school. We have grave concerns about the Governor’s approach joining a system that continues to circumvent due process and scrutiny of evidence that leads young people and children to being labeled as gang members...

We need a plan that prioritizes youth jobs, after-school programs, college access programs, guidance counselors, and social and mental health supports."

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