Immigration issues in the United States long ago devolved into the surreal, but it was still an eyebrow-raiser on Friday to see a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office giving tips to illegal immigrants on what to do if confronted by federal authorities.
The Office for New Americans — yes, the Cuomo administration has an Office for New Americans, directed by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado — and the Liberty Defense Project circulated “tips and guidelines so that residents know their rights if they are confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and/or Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”
The tips were sent out in anticipation of reportedly imminent ICE raids in 10 selected cities — NYC among them, the only part of the state our governor truly serves — to round up some 2,000 illegals who are under orders of deportation. President Trump ordered the sweep in his typically ham-handed fashion in the hopes of spurring more action on the part of Congress to provide desperately needed clarity on immigration laws.
Here’s a sampling of the tips:
• Do NOT consent to a search of your belongings or your pockets. ICE/CBP may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. Do NOT physically resist. If ICE/CBP agents begin to search your person, say out loud, “I do not consent to a search.”
• Do NOT give false information if you choose to answer questions. Do NOT show any expired or false immigration documents to ICE/CBP.
• You do NOT have to share any information about where you were born, where you live, where you work, where you go to school, any information about your family, what your immigration status is, or your criminal record.
• If an officer knocks on your door, do NOT open it. Ask the officer through the closed door to show their identification and if they have a warrant.
• If the officer says “yes,” to the warrant, still do not open the door but ask the officer to show you the warrant by slipping it under the door.
• You have the right to seek legal assistance and may ask to speak to a lawyer instead of answering questions. If you do not have an attorney, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, the governor’s office is not nearly so solicitous and helpful to other groups of New Yorkers — you know, New Yorkers who are actually legal citizens — who might feel their rights and/or opportunities are being infringed.
What tips, for instance, might a governor’s Office of American Gun Owners offer to Second Amendment adherents who don’t believe they had to register their semiautomatic rifles with the state police — and they find law enforcement officers at their door?
• Don’t open the door.
• Don’t consent to a search of your residence or vehicle without a warrant.
• Don’t admit to anything — in fact, just keep your mouth shut.
• For legal representation, call 1-800…
Or, how about tips for Upstate New Yorkers who find legal authorities at their doors with eviction notices because, being underemployed — or just flat out of work — they can’t make ends meet in an economy undercut by the state’s devastating tax and regulatory burden?
• Don’t open the door.
• Hope they just go away.
• Ask if you can get an extension to grow legal weed on your property.
• For legal representation, call 1-800… Ahh, who are we kidding? You’re screwed, try moving to the Carolinas.
FARCE? Indeed it is. Just as it’s a farce that the Cuomo administration sees the immigration crisis as anything other than an opportunity to be milked — for political gain in the only parts of the state that matter, the urban centers, and for ongoing political leverage in the national fight against President Trump and the GOP.
I can’t remember the last time Cuomo set foot in our stretch of the Southern Tier, while he’s traveled multiple times the past two years to hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico, delivering aid and support while, again, pandering to a constituency that is important to him.
Members of the Olean community stood in vigil Friday night over the immigration crisis because they have good hearts — no caring person wants to see children and families suffer or live under the cloud of an unsafe, uncertain future.
But their calls for action should be directed at both Democrats and Republicans, who have the power to agree on immigration reforms that provide more realistic paths to citizenship while maintaining sovereign borders.
Enough with the immigration chaos. Enough.
(Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is email@example.com.)