Immigrants Deserve Equal Treatment

Immigrants Deserve Equal Treatment
Familiares de Gabriela Armijos esperan mayor compromiso de las autoridades para que reabran el caso por la muerte de su hermana en Long Island.
Foto: Mariela Lombard / Mariela Lombard/El Diario Nueva York

Although gone are the days of daily anti-immigrant tensions in Long Island, the realities of today show that there is still a lot of work to do for the local police in this area’s suburbs to adjust to the demographic change brought about by the arrival of new Latino communities.

Grassroots and civil rights organizations like LatinoJustice, which are monitoring whether Hispanic victims get an equal treatment when crimes are being investigated, have sounded the alarm once again.

This time, the complaints point to the Hamptons local police and of the way it has handled some cases. Specifically, the concern is that they don’t pay the same kind of attention when the victim is an immigrant.

“In the Hamptons, the Police interest depends on the victim’s skin color,” said bluntly Yadira Vázquez, a Mexican resident and activist for 14 years. “Officers don’t understand that we do not live in the Hamptons of 30 years ago, when there were not Latinos.”

Only in the East Hampton area, Hispanics represent 14.8 percent of the population, according to Census figures. Many immigrants have settled in Long Island attracted by jobs in the hospitality industry and construction.

While it is true that since 2008 – when Marcelo Lucero was killed by a group of white kids – Long Island authorities implemented a series of changes to improve the police-community relations, it is clear that distrust towards officers remains. There is a feeling of discrimination and unequal treatment.

The authorities must take action to make sure that justice is delivered equally. Every report must be taken into account and be investigated thoroughly. Officers should not jump to conclusions lightly.