Federal raids rankle Long Island officials
Nassau County officials are demanding a federal investigation into the tactics federal immigration agents used last week in raids on Long Island.
County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey are scheduled to hold a news conference today at which they will release copies of letters they have sent to federal officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, whose agency oversees the agents.
The letters about the raids will detail “specific complaints, including a lack of current intelligence and unnecessary risks to officer safety,” Suozzi’s office said Monday. Aides declined to release those specifics.
Mulvey told Newsday last week that his department had been “misled” by officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of Homeland Security. The immigration agency had told Nassau County police that it was executing warrants for residents who were members of gangs, but none of those arrested were named in the warrants, Mulvey said.
The agency appeared intent on arresting illegal immigrants rather than executing warrants, Mulvey said.
But Special Agent Peter Smith of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the Associated Press that 157 of 186 people arrested in raids on Long Island last week were gang members or associates. He said most of them probably would be deported to their native countries.
Smith said Mulvey’s statistics “are not correct. We will be discussing this further.”
Mulvey has said his department will no longer cooperate with immigration officials unless they are clear about operations and share information.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman declined direct comment Monday but struck a conciliatory note.
“We have a strong relationship with Nassau County and its police department, and it’s in our greatest interest to continue this relationship,” spokesman Mark Thorn said. “We will be reaching out to the Nassau County Police Department and the police commissioner to clear up any misunderstandings.”