My friend Jeremy Paretsky – whose sermon on the knowledge of God was posted here some time ago – is now the Sub-Prior (administrator) of a small Dominican Order house in New York. A man who works for him – a legal permanent resident of the United States, the father of two natural-born U.S. citizens – just had a deeply troubling experience with Donald Trump’s “unshackled” ICE. He was stopped for no reason other than his appearance, treated rudely, manhandled, held for interrogation for 90 minutes, and finally released without any apology or explanation other than that the stop was “routine”: which implies that it could be repeated at any time.
In the movies of my childhood, the cold-faced men demanding “Your papers, please” had German or Russian accents. I preferred it that way.
This event makes me think that whatever the shackles were, they need to be put back in place. Fr. Paretsky’s letter to Sen. Gillibrand follows. I can provide his contact information to any journalist or lawyer who would like to follow up.
The good news is that Sen. Gillibrand has offered to help. The bad news is that the victim of this outrage – I repeat, a legal permanent resident of this country, who has been accused of no wrongdoing of any kind – is too afraid to allow his name to be used. In the United States of America.
Footnote Do you routinely carry documents proving that you’re a U.S. citizen? Neither do I.
March 3, 2017
The Honorable Kirsten E. Gillibrand
780 3rd Ave, #2601
New York, NY 10017
Dear Senator Gillibrand:
At the recommendation of Vicki Ger, esq. I am sending you this report to be forwarded to the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility. The subject is an employee of St. Vincent Ferrer Priory (Dominican Fathers, Province of St. Joseph) in New York.
The man is from the Dominican Republic, lives in the Bronx, and has been employed full time by the Dominican Fathers as a handyman since 2011. He has lived legally in the U.S. for over twenty years. He is married — his wife is applying for U.S. citizenship – and has two children.
On February 20th he left home early to come to St. Vincent Ferrer to catch up on work. At approximately 4:30 a.m. he changed trains at the 86th Street subway stop in Manhattan and was on the platform when several agents of ICE approached. Some other men ran away, but our man saw no reason to run. He says he knew they were ICE because the name was on their shirts.
They grabbed him and demanded ID. When he reached for his pocket, they held him tight and began to frisk him. He said, “Don’t touch me. You want an ID; I am trying to show you my ID.” One of the men replied, “Tough guy, huh?” and they took him to a small room in the station, where they interrogated him for 90 minutes. They told him they were making a routine check for illegals. He showed them his “green card”. That was not satisfactory. He showed them a letter attesting to his employment by the Dominican Fathers; they would not accept the letter because it was from 2015. He showed them the stub of his latest paycheck. After 90 minutes they let him go.
He does not want me to use his name, because he is afraid that if word gets out that he has made a complaint, they will continue to harass him. He is already fearful for his seven-year old son, who still goes to school, though some classmates now do not.
I want to express my outrage that anyone in our country and especially in our city should be treated in this high-handed way. Treating all people who look “foreign” as potential criminals tears the very social fabric which has held our country together for so long.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
(Rev.) Jeremy L. Paretsky
Subprior and Treasurer, St. Vincent Ferrer Priory