Joint Press Statement on Stewart Airport Raid
December 22, 2009
Milan Bhatt: 845-331-6615
Betsy Palmieri: 914-977-3295
The Worker’s Rights Law Center of NY and Hudson Valley Community Coalition strongly condemn the recent raid at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY. In the early hours of December 17th, in the midst of the holiday season, over a dozen workers of Empire Warehouse Solutions were swept away and detained in the Orange County Jail, a facility that recently entered into a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The whereabouts of several workers are still unknown. Immigrant and worker advocates are well-aware of the disturbing trend of mass workplace raids in states such as Iowa and Mississippi and increasing cooperation nationwide between local law enforcement and immigration authorities. The sting at Stewart Airport could not have set a more dangerous precedent for New York, a state with one of the country’s highest immigrant populations and one that has historically been a leader in protecting their rights.
Low-wage immigrant workers in New York, already vulnerable to wage exploitation and other abuse, will now face heightened fear when showing up to work. Last Thursday’s raid also ripped apart entire families in the region, many of whom were comprised of U.S. Citizens. Advocates throughout the region and state reject any new policy by ICE in New York that accelerates the detention and deportation of hard-working immigrant populations. Those who have been devastated by this raid are our neighbors-the fabric of our communities and the driving force in many sectors of our local economy. They deserve to be treated fairly and humanely. As Congress last week has once again taken up the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, it is critical that New York continue to model pro-immigrant policies, not practices that punish hard-working communities for political gain.