The news of Diego Puma’s arrest by ICE officers has gone national. The story of the prom-night arrest of a hard-working high school senior weeks before graduation is only one of thousands of similar stories that are tearing families and this nation apart.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says simply “This is federal law.” Which in our book is a whisper away from “just following orders”. You can see Rob Astorino on the discuss how he feels about undocumented immigrants in this video. Give it a view past the opening statements about federal law because what follows is Astorino pulling a little sleight of hand: He conflates ICE arrests of all families with a violent gang coming from Long Island up to Westchester County. Be afraid, very afraid of the bad hombres. Take your eyes off the issue of an 18-year-old student prevented from graduating high school.
In a Town Hall held on June 12th, Rob Astorino was confronted about Diego Puma. He was asked if he saw any disconnect between his statement that no child should go to bed afraid and not speaking out about the arrests. No, no disconnect. Just following orders.
In the Eastchester Town Hall, Rob Astorino explained the whole story of Diego Puma. From his point of view, of course. It was tragic. Diego Puma should be able to attend his prom and his graduation before being deported. But Astorino’s hands were tied. Federal law, ya know?
So Rob Astorino supports deporting an 18 year old. But here’s the thing – deportations are down. Arrests are up. Which means Diego Puma will probably be in prison for a while and not reunited with his mother. And that the prison industry is making some money off of his family’s misery. Remember: the private prison industry’s stock went up 100% since Trump’s election. And once again, the big picture, the moral picture, eludes Westchester’s County Executive.
Other things we know about Rob Astorino on immigration:
- Against sanctuary cities.
- Supports Donald Trump’s policies without informing his constituents the effect they will have on their education system, services, environment, or on neighbors like Diego Puma.
- Will state the immigration system is broken but not answer “yes” or “no” as to whether he believes Trump’s immigration policy is effective or also broken.
And while Rob Astorino shrugs his shoulders, refuses to say “yes” or “no” (because he’ll support Trump when he’s churning up his tiny base on WOR but not in a Town Hall, in front of the many constituents who did not vote for the reality TV star), other Westchester County legislators have spoken out about Diego Puma’s arrest. Legislators like Nita Lowey and George Latimer , the Democratic Party challenger to Rob Astorino’s seat, show a broader understanding of what this brutal policy means. Latimer wrote:
This young man is a senior at Ossining High School, and he should have been attending his high school prom on Thursday. Instead, he was arrested and is now in custody awaiting deportation. There’s something profoundly wrong with that sequence of events. Actions this disruptive and callous can’t help but undermine trust between law enforcement and our immigrant communities.
It was George Latimer – not Rob Astorino – who began the petition to release Diego Puma.
A while back, Astorino Watch wrote about County Executive envy, buyer’s remorse and regret after seeing all the legislators showing true leadership while facing down this new, unprecedented administration in the White House.
What’s going to be, Rob Astorino? Yes, or no? Graduation or deportation? The whole world is watching.
JUNE 24th UPDATE
Good news: Diego Puma was not held in prison limbo but was reunited with his mother.
Good news: Ecuador is welcoming the family.
Here are the updates:
ECUADOR RECIBIRÁ DIGNAMENTE A HERMANOS MIGRANTES DEPORTADOS: se ha logrado coordinar y recibir un total apoyo del gobierno ecuatoriano. Diego Puma, su mamá y otros compatriotas serán recibidos en el aeropuerto.
Este es un comunicado oficial: asambleista Ximena Peña se reúne con coordinación zonal de cancilleria para coordinar plan de contingencia para el regreso de Diego Puma y otros compañeros migrantes.
ECUADOR WILL RECEIVE DEPORTED MIGRANT BROTHERS: it has managed to coordinate and receive full support from the Ecuadorian government. Diego Puma, his mother and other compatriots will be met at the airport.
This is an official statement: Assemblywoman Ximena Peña meets with zonal coordination of Cancillería/foreign Ministry to coordinate contingency plan for the return of Diego Puma and other migrant companions.
It’s important to read this piece in The Boston Globe with the headline “If John Cunningham is Not Safe, No One is Safe.”
America as we know it is in a crisis right now. The only way to save our true democratic values and the Constitution is to act consistently and locally. #WeAreAllImmigrants