ICE Expelled From Nassau County Correctional Center

A rally held on outside the Nassau County Correctional Center on June 30, 2018, called for ICE to be removed from Nassau County. (Photos by Kimberly Dijkstra)

By the end of this month, six agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) will be leaving their trailer at the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow.

ICE will continue to work in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, but they have been ordered out of the facility by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“We do not need any more time to think about ICE relocating away from county jail property,” Curran said in a statement. “Let me be clear: Nassau County is tough on crime—that is why we have the lowest crime stats in decades. The law is the law, and we will follow it. Removing ICE from the trailer gives us the opportunity to eliminate confusion in the immigrant community and demonstrate that inmates are there for crimes. This strengthens our community policing model.”

The county executive’s office said that a November appellate court ruling against a Suffolk County detention policy influenced the shift. Suffolk County had previously allowed correction facilities to hold individuals under federal warrants at a time when they would otherwise be released.

ICE will no longer be allowed to operate from a trailer at the East Meadow jail.

There will be still be coordination between the county and ICE on the issue of illegal immigrant crime.

“Commissioner [Patrick] Ryder will continue to work with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and with our communities,” Curran added. “I want to thank Commissioner Ryder for his strong leadership.”

The decision was criticized by both Nassau County legislators and law enforcement officers.

“The decision did not state that the county, including staff and our correctional facility, can no longer cooperate with ICE, including handing over inmates, who, for example, are known members of gangs,” said Nassau Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello in his own statement.

“Cutting off this valuable resource for any reason is an affront to the taxpayers and residents of Nassau County who depend on their elected and appointed officials and law enforcement agencies to keep them safe,” added Brian Sullivan, president of Nassau’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association at a Mineola press conference.

The county executive’s move also had its supporters, mainly on the grounds of improving relations between law enforcement and the immigrant community.

“Thanks to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran for ordering ICE to vacate the East Meadow jail campus,” tweeted a statement from the New York Immigrant Coalition. “We look forward to improving trust amongst community members!”

“The presence of ICE trailers at the county jail had created the impression in the immigrant communities that the police were working hand in glove with ICE,” said Patrick Young, an immigration attorney in a statement to the media. “It’s very important that the police establish trust with the immigrant community.”

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