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Nov 15, 2016 3:39 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East End Latinos React To President Elect Trump

Sister Margaret Smyth, director of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate in Riverhead.  DANA SHAW
Nov 15, 2016 3:46 PM

The election of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States has many waiting to see what the businessman will do when he’s sworn into office in January—including members of the South Fork’s Latino community.

Mr. Trump’s platform has focused on immigration reform, highlighted by his plans to build a wall at the southern border between Mexico and the United States. More than a year later, Mr. Trump stands by his plan to build the wall and, in a interview on “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, he stated that he plans to deport two million to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds. During the campaign, he suggested that he might broaden that effort to others who are undocumented.

Talk of deportations has been a cause for concern among some members of the Latino community on the East End who say Mr. Trump’s election makes them uneasy.

“I think everyone knew the threat was real,” said Minerva Perez, executive director of Organización Latino-Americano of Eastern Long Island, or OLA. “I think people in the Latino community and other voters who did not want him to be in office took that as a real threat.”

“I could feel that people wanted a change, and they were fed up with whatever had been happening, and they hadn’t seen any positive change economically,” said Isabel Sepulveda-de Scanlon, a Southampton resident and founding member and board president of OLA.

“You always have to be prepared when you talk to people and hear what they’re saying—the possibility always existed, especially because things that he said do have an appeal to people who hope for a better life,” said Sister Margaret Smyth, director of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate in Riverhead, which also provides services to residents on the South Fork.

In a time of fear and uncertainty for some on the East End, the goal of these organizations is to have an open-door policy for those concerned about their stake in a country they call home for the next four to eight years. Ms. Perez said OLA will remain very accessible to the community and address any issues residents have or answer questions.

“What’s very important is that OLA is remaining committed to its mission from the start and being committed to that mission and keeping a focus, not sort of spinning out and kind of chasing down every sort of hateful radical. We’re not gonna use our energy in a way that’s not intelligent,” she said. “We need to, more than ever, maintain and strengthen the allies and conversations and communications that we’ve been having and developing. Very positive ones, like with [East Hampton Town Police] Chief [Michael] Sarlo, with Southampton Town Police, with the supervisors of both of those towns.”

Still, some members of the Latino community say they are concerned for themselves and their loved ones.

“The first thing that happened the day right after the election, I had four people come into my office and apply for passports for their American-born children. We helped them fill out the papers,” Sister Margaret said. “I said, ‘Oh, are you going traveling?’ and they said, ‘No, we’re getting ready in case we’re deported.’ It breaks your heart, because these are hardworking, taxpaying people, and they’re afraid. Every time we bring this up in conversation in church, it becomes very animated. They certainly want to know more about what’s going to go on.”

Many have expressed concerns to OLA and other organizations about how Mr. Trump’s policy would affect them directly and whether they are at risk for possible deportation.

Ms. Perez noted that, for example, an undocumented woman who is in a relationship where she is the victim of domestic violence, and then is arrested after fighting back against her abuser, could be at risk for deportation under the new policy. Without knowing the context of the woman’s situation, and if she doesn’t have proper representation in court, a police report could establish a criminal record for her. “The reality is that when you talk about a criminal record, you really have to dig deeper than just that sound bite,” Ms. Perez said.

Ms. Perez emphasized that local organizations can help alleviate fear of the unknown by providing some answers and support. Ms. Sepulveda-de Scanlon has suggested inviting public officials from nonprofit immigration organizations throughout the state to the East End to talk to residents and answer questions.

“The best way is to give real information,” Ms. Sepulveda-de Scanlon said. “Don’t spread gossip. Facts, facts, facts.”

“Make sure that they stay calm, because we’re still dealing with the unknown, and the worst thing would be to have a panic,” Sister Margaret said. “Make sure that you be in contact with people that are gathering information—the different immigrant organizations, the churches—because they’re going to be sifting out information and making sure the right things get out to the community.”

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Isabel is legal, why isn't she trying to get every one registered? Deportation is for ALL illegal people, not just hispanics. A lot of people on student visa's have not attended school and should be deported.
By knitter (1907), Southampton on Nov 15, 16 5:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
I would like to correct the author of this article:

Mr. Trump's platform was "not" focused on immigration reform as incorrectly stated in this article, rather, Mr. Trump's platform was focused on "enforcing" the "current" immigration laws.
By Jay_Z (11), southampton on Nov 15, 16 7:12 PM
Sister Margaret has been accused of counseling illegal immigrants on how to avoid being detected and how to prevent code enforcers from entering their illegal group homes. Can we make room on the plane south for her?
By fire11 (276), east hampton on Nov 15, 16 10:48 PM
I think the Press, when quoting Isabel Sepulveda-de Scanlon, "a Southampton resident and founding member and board president of OLA" should point out she was on the newspaper's' payroll and the editor of its wildly unsuccessful Press Latino newspaper and perhaps still has an HMO or retirement plan with the Press. That's what reputable newspapers do,like the Times ...oh my goodness what did I just say?
By fire11 (276), east hampton on Nov 15, 16 10:52 PM
Racist ibs think that generalizing about all Latinos is appropriate. Because all Latinos think and behave in perfectly predictable and identical ways. So, once you know how a couple Latinos think, you know how all Latinos in the east end think. You know, because they all have the same skin color

You'll never see an article like this about Germans or Men or White people. Just those predictable Latinos that the libs took for granted.
By even flow (996), East Hampton on Nov 16, 16 5:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
Dam the Democrats for lettimg illegals pour into our country in search of more voters on election day.
Dam the U.S. Chamber of Commerce branch of the Republican party for letting in illegals in search of new pools of cheap labor.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Nov 16, 16 7:09 AM
OLA should never have had a seat on the committee to select the new police chief unless every other ethnic group had a seat. It is disgraceful. OLA can do whatever they want and the Press can do whatever they want, but when the Town Officials make bias decisions or give the appearance of bias decisions, they violate their oath of office and need to step down.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 16, 16 7:22 AM
They come here illegally then want to change the rules?
By chief1 (2790), southampton on Nov 16, 16 10:06 AM
Some buzz words in this article popped out at me including fear, uncertainty, unknown, threat, and panic. I know many native born citizens, as well as legal documented immigrants that been experiencing uncertainty, fear of the unknown, threats to their livelihoods, and panic in their everyday lives for a number of years now as a result of the ever growing undocumented workforce on Long Island’s East End. There is more than one victim here, not just the illegal immigrant. Many legitimate ...more
By Jay_Z (11), southampton on Nov 16, 16 1:01 PM
3 members liked this comment
Why is it that the press identifies all letters to the editor and not scanlon??? BIAS???
By knitter (1907), Southampton on Nov 17, 16 10:53 AM
getting ready in case we’re deported.’ It breaks your heart, because these are hardworking, taxpaying people, and they’re afraid
How are these people both undocumented and taxpaying? Facts, facts, facts! You seem to have missed quite a few in this article.
By my2goldens (12), Hampton Bays on Nov 17, 16 11:43 AM
Didn't you know that just because someone pays sales tax , that makes them taxpayers?
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Nov 18, 16 8:25 PM
They should be scared, they should have never been able to get comfortable.
They commited a crime and those who comfort them are criminals also.
In addition to clogging our courts, schools, hospitals and jails- we are getting gang violence and crime.
Law and Order will prevail.
By Rayman (64), southampton on Nov 17, 16 5:50 PM
2 members liked this comment
While it may be true that illegal immigrants can "voluntarily" pay taxes, employers cannot legally hire them. They then don't have to pay employers taxes or insurance. What happened to people's sense of right and wrong? Where are their ethics? Small businesses that don't want to break the law are eventually put out of business since they can't compete. I hope that part of "making America Great again" is fining these employers and making them pay all the back taxes. The underground cash economy ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 16 7:59 AM