(CMC) A Caribbean/American legislator has sought to dispel rumours about immigration sweeps at, among other places, a popular Caribbean department store and major hospital in Brooklyn.
New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said that he and his staffers have been following up on “the many rumours, as we can.”
Many of the rumours about immigration sweeps at Bobby’s Department Store and the expansive Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, among other places, are being circulated primarily on social media.
“We have spoken to owners of the commuter van lines, as well as the management at Bobby’s Department Store, and have confirmed that at this time there have not been general indiscriminate stops made by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents over the past few days,” said Williams, who is also deputy leader of the New York City Council.
“There have, however, been incidents of people posing as immigration officials in efforts to scam people for money,” he said, noting “in addition, we remain in touch with the mayor’s office.
“The best thing an understandably concerned community can do is be armed with accurate information. To that end, we ask everyone to make an effort to substantiate information before spreading as rumours. Unfortunately, the immigrant community has reason to be worried and should stay vigilant.”
Williams has been among the Caribbean community’s most vocal critics of the Trump’s administration immigration policies.
On January 25, Trump signed an executive order “vastly expanding who is considered a priority for deportation,” the New York Times said.
This has prompted further outrage from Caribbean/American legislators, who have called for a very strong stance against the new president’s immigration policies.
“My office recommends: First, if you hear info about ICE activity, please continue to forward them to us”, Williams said.
“Second, if you should see activity you suspect are ICE actions, please send any concrete information that can safely and without interference be obtained.
“You should also call your local precinct as they may be ICE impersonators looking to scam unsuspecting people,” he added, stating that the New York Police Department [NYPD] “is not currently working with immigration officials; and, as policy, does not randomly ask people about their immigration status.”
Williams, however, said concerns about immigration checkpoints and raids, “whether rumours or not, are evidence of the mass hysteria that has taken hold of communities across the country, because of Trump.”
“This administration, from day one, has done everything in its power to marginalize people, create a culture of fear, and divide Americans,” he said.
“The President’s erratic behaviour only makes it more difficult for our communities, as evidenced by his recent announcement about the possibility of deploying 100,000 National Guard troops for immigration round ups,” Williams added.
“I stand with my New York City colleagues in government in standing against Trump on actions against our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
On Friday, the White House denied reports of a plan to deploy as many as 100,000 National Guard troops as part of a nationwide deportation force that would help to augment federal agents and local authorities newly deputized to enforce Trump’s immigration policies.
On Friday, ICE officials disclosed that criminal immigrants from Guyana and Jamaica were among 41 people arrested in the New York metropolitan area this month.
ICE said the offenses included 12 people with convictions for sex-related crimes, including three cases of rape and six involving offenses against children; nine with convictions for driving under the influence; three with robbery convictions; and two with convictions for distribution or sale of cocaine.
All of the convictions listed qualified as deportable offenses under the previous Obama administration.
On Friday, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders expressed concern that Trump’s immigration policies could result in a reduction of travel to the Caribbean.
“We must obviously be concerned with the recent issue related to immigration, and the impact it will have on our citizens and on tourism,” Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, told reporters at the conclusion of the two-day CARICOM summit in Guyana.