#ImmigrationsAndCustomsEnforcement #ICE #Protest #JimFranco #SpotlightNews
COLONIE – About two dozen people protested outside the federal Department of Homeland Security building on Route 7 on Friday, June 6, and called for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I’m terrified for my country and the way we treat people who are coming here and the people who are already living here as part of our communities,” said Miriam Tell, of Albany. “I think this is a first step towards some even more terrifying things like what we saw in Germany in the 30s. We are imprisoning babies in concentration camps already and we are talking about questioning people who have been naturalized citizens. They come for the most vulnerable first and then they can come after anyone.”
She said ICE has become a “rogue agency” that is no longer “following the law.”
“They are showing up on private property and on farms to pull away workers. There is no humanity left in the way it is operating,” she said. “It is acting to terrorize people. We need to start over with an agency that is running with a different mindset.”
The day held no particular significance as to why the protesters showed up, but there was a sign on the door saying the building was closed for the day. The protest does come as the national outcry over the practice of separating families at the border gets louder as too does the outcry by some Democrats in Washington to disband ICE.
Steve Downs, an attorney from Selkirk who made national news in 2003 for getting thrown out of Crossgates Mall for wearing a “Peace on Earth” T-shirt, was on the scene as a legal observer. While he was part of a program established by the Civil Liberties Union and other organizations to keep an impartial eye on protests — and the police should they opt to intervene — he does have strong personnel reasons for being there, too.
“Nobody should be treated the way people are being treated. Families are being separated and immigrants are being abused,” he said. “I’ve re-settled a number of immigrant families in this country and all of them have gone on to live productive lives — they have jobs, they pay taxes, they have gone to college and they have done exceptionally well. I can’t tell you how distressed I am the way we treat people who are trying to build our country.”
Pete Looker, who grew up about a mile away from the protest, was wearing a shirt that said “Homeland Security is Sustainable Energy.”
“If we were not hooked on foreign oil, we would not be invading the middle east and creating all these refuges and all these terrible problems,” he said. “My grandparents came here from Scandinavia to avoid World War II, and I am here to protest the unfairness of our immigration system today as it relates to our empire.”