Demonstrators ask police to say ‘no’ to ICE, rebuild trust

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MINEOLA -

The deportation of a man following a routine traffic stop in Nassau has sparked allegations that the county's police force is working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. 

Immigration attorneys and others rallied Wednesday in Mineola to protest Denis Guerra Guerra's deportation. His attorney Elise Damas says he has no criminal history and was arrested in Roosevelt earlier this month after getting pulled over for failure to use his turn signal. 

Damas does acknowledge that Guerra Guerra, 30, had a federal "removal order" pending since 2006, but she says Nassau police should not be enforcing a civil immigration matter.

"You're Nassau County PD. You are not ICE agents. It's that simple," says Damas. 

In a statement, acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said, "The Nassau County Police Department will not inquire into any person's immigration status unless they are arrested for a crime."

Police say at the time of Guerra Guerra's arrest, officers believed he had committed a crime because he had a razor blade knife in his car. That charge was dropped soon afterward when Guerra Guerra was brought to the precinct.

The demonstrators, who hand-delivered letters to the Mangano administration, say they want the county to be honest about its policy regarding undocumented immigrants. 

The paperwork delivered to County Executive Ed Mangano included a letter from Rep. Tom Suozzi. He said he feels it is "counterproductive to Nassau's long-term community policing efforts to facilitate the deportation of individuals who have not committed a crime." 

The deputy county executive acknowledged receipt of the letters, but said the issue of Guerra Guerra's arrest is under the police department's jurisdiction.

Some Nassau residents like Pat Nicolisi say Nassau police should be helping federal agents deport undocumented immigrants. 

"We pay a lot of taxes in Nassau County. Welcome to the United States, but come here legally," says Nicolisi.

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