BY TRONE DOWD
Residents shared their concerns regarding President Donald Trump’s administration during a recent town hall in Rosedale organized by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica). One of the evening’s key topics was the president’s orders on immigration and how they could affect the community.
The town hall is just one of five being held in Southeast Queens this month. The most recent one was held on Monday at Rosedale’s American Legion Post 483. There, Meeks gave advice to constituents concerned about the livelihoods of their families in the wake of Trump’s immigration orders.
“It feels like [Trump] has been president for six years,” Meeks joked with the crowd of approximately 150 Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale and Jamaica residents. “It is tremendously important for me to make sure I relate to you on a continuous basis what this debate is all about as it unfolds and what it will mean to you.”
Immigration has been one of the hot topics in Queens since Trump was on the campaign trail last year.
The congressman had several tips for constituents who may find themselves on the other side of the door when Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes knocking.
“We want you to be aware that if an immigration agent or someone from ICE comes knocking at your door, don’t automatically open your door,” Meeks said. “Keep the door closed and ask them if they are immigration agents. If you happened to have opened your door, it does not give them permission to go inside of your house and do a complete inspection.”
Meeks said that it is important for individuals to remain calm throughout the exchange.
“If they don’t speak your language, ask for an interpreter,” Meeks said. “There has to be proper communication and they are required to have an interpreter to speak the proper language for proper communication.”
Before the agents enter a home, they should be asked to produce a warrant signed by a judge. If they are unable to do so, Meeks says that they are not allowed to enforce any sort of arrest.
“An administrative warrant of removal from immigration authorities is not enough, not when they knock on your door,” Meeks said.
Residents should ask ICE officers to slip the warrant under the door. The warrant should contain a judge’s signature as well as the name of the individual for whom they are searching on the warrant’s top line.
The congressman said that notifying local church and community leaders about vital information pertaining to immigration and making sure that they carry the message back to those who trust them is the key to reaching people who are too scared to attend the Southeast Queens town halls.
“I can tell you that I know individuals who will send other people to get this information and take it back home,” Meeks said. “People are afraid, very afraid. We want to make as many messengers as we can, so that individuals who they can trust can disseminate that information.”
Meeks is scheduled to have one more town hall next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Rockaway YMCA, located at 207 Beach 73rd St. in Arverne.