Riverhead panel meets to discuss immigrant comments

A meeting was held in Riverhead to address recent, controversial comments made by town officials regarding people suspected of immigration violations.

A meeting was held in Riverhead to address recent, controversial comments made by town officials regarding people suspected of immigration violations. (8/20/15)

RIVERHEAD - A meeting was held in Riverhead to address recent, controversial comments made by town officials regarding people suspected of immigration violations.

Daniela Guillen, of Port Jefferson Station, says she lived in fear for years, worrying that a simple traffic stop would lead to her parents being deported back to Honduras.

Guillen came to Riverhead Town Hall to join a panel discussion on controversial comments reportedly made by members of the Riverhead Town Council. The comments appeared in an online article.

One comment was attributed to Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. It referred to the town's policy of not automatically detaining undocumented immigrants pulled over during traffic stops. Giglio was quoted as saying, "We can't just keep releasing criminals out onto the street. This could be our next Freedom Tower attack."

While speaking with News 12, Giglio defended her comments. "If they have a criminal past and they are pulled over and they are on a list from the federal government that they want to interview this person and they've committed a crime - yes, we should hold them," she says.

Giglio went on to say that she believes anyone who cannot produce identification should be brought in to a police precinct and fingerprinted, whether there is a warrant for their arrest or not.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter blasted Giglio and the other council members. Walter, who will face Giglio in a Republican primary for the supervisor job next month, says Giglio's comments were politically motivated and also defended town police.

"Our police department doesn't do anything different than other police departments in Suffolk County," he says.

Giglio also says she hopes to meet with police officials to further discuss the town's policies.

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