Since congressional leaders visited detention facilities at the U.S. border with Mexico in the last few weeks, readers have been reaching out to us about the immigration issue. Overall, these letters have a common thread: Continue to cover the topic.
As a community newspaper, our focus is mainly on local news, rather than international affairs. But, local elected officials are telling their constituents that border conditions are awful. Immigrants are living in cages and unusually crowded. We hear you and out of humanitarian concern promise to follow the issue. In turn, we ask you to stay in touch and share your perspectives. Your comments and criticism help us all become better informed.
Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives live in our circulation area: U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who lives in Glen Cove, runs an office in Huntington. His district includes parts of Queens and the North Shore of Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk counties extending west to include parts of Kings Park and Commack. U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who lives in Shirley, and runs an office in Patchogue, represents most of Suffolk County.
Suozzi sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and is vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 48 congressional leaders that are “not afraid to take on tough issues.”
Zeldin sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, which deals with issues related to Central America. It passed H.R. 2615, the bill that authorizes foreign assistance to fight corruption and improve economic conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, nations from which many immigrants originated. The bill currently awaits action in the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.
People can contact Senators Charles Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D) on H.R. 2615, called The U.S. Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, and other immigration issues. You can also leave messages with the White House on your position.
One U.S. policy that may be the most unrealistic is expecting people to seek asylum in the first country they encounter. Immigrants often leave to escape violence and not all countries are bordered by nations able to protect them.
On July 16, the Trump administration published a new rule, 8 C.F.R. Parts 1003 and 1208 on the Federal Register, stating that any immigrant who fails to seek protection from a country outside their native land before crossing the U.S. border is ineligible for asylum.
On Long Island and nationwide, Catholic Charities is one the largest providers of legal services for all people in the immigrant community. They agree that policies need to be humane. Policies should not prevent people from seeking asylum.
We the people need to bear responsibility. Call your elected officials today:
White House: 202-456-1111
Sen. Chuck Schumer: 202-224-6542
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: 202-224-4451
Rep. Tom Suozzi: 202-225-3335
Rep. Lee Zeldin: 202-225-3143