By David M. Sperling
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer — a time for Long Islanders to relax and look forward to sunny skies and beautiful beaches.
So, while easing into vacation mode for the holiday weekend, I happened upon a report in Newsday with the scary Page 1 headline: “LI-Area Deportation Surge.” More Hispanic panic!
Actually, the report was fairly balanced, noting that 77 percent of the 41,898 immigrants arrested nationwide during President Trump’s first 100 days had criminal records. And the national numbers were 23 percent less than during a similar period in 2014, under President Obama.
But people look at headlines first. There are many political partisans– and even some well-meaning immigration advocates — who have an interest in stirring up fear and anxiety in the Hispanic community.
Truth be told, there are two groups of immigrants that face heightened risk under the Trump administration: those with criminal records or gang associations, and those with previous deportation orders who never left the country. (At last count, there were 962,000 immigrants with deportation orders that remain in the United States.) Any immigrant, other than a Legal Permanent Resident, also has a good chance of being deported if convicted of a DWI.
But the vast majority of immigrants — including undocumented immigrants, do not have a criminal record. Anyone who does not have a deportation order or serious criminal record, with no gang associations, and who is not a recent entrant, faces very little risk. This is especially true for any immigrant who has children born in the United States or other family ties with U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents.
As we all know, President Trump has made blustery threats to deport a few million “criminal immigrants.” In fact, there are nowhere near a few million criminal immigrants, and some of them — like the murderous MS-13 gang members on Long Island — deserve to be deported.
So, relax and kick back. It’s going to be a beautiful summer!