The neighborhood south of the railroad tracks in Greenport Village is called West Dublin because it was once inhabited by Irish people who came to work on the railroad or at the brick factories.
Later, waves of brickmakers, farmworkers and shipbuilders would hail from Scotland, Italy and Poland. Greek people, Eastern European people, Jewish people, freemen from the South, the Claudio family from Portugal and, recently, people from Central America — including Mexico — and South America, have all come here to Greenport to pursue a piece of the American dream along our bustling working waterfront.
We are and always have been a village of immigrants. A significant number of our local businesses are owned by immigrants or domestic migrants. Without Latino people coming here in the 1990s, the boom of the past generation would not have happened. Our commercial district could not have become the eclectic, bustling center of activity that now attracts visitors from many points west.
As a village elected official, I do not usually deal with national immigration law and policies. But the safety of our residents should always be a top priority for any decent local elected official.
This week’s executive order from the White House has changed the landscape. I want to be clear and unequivocal: I will stand up for home rule by this village government, I will stand up for law-abiding, tax-paying Greenporters of all national origins and I will resist any effort by the federal government or anyone else to harass or menace my neighbors based on their race, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation or creed.
I am proud of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his pledge to protect New Yorkers and will call on his office for support if necessary. I have already spoken with the local reps for U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who pledged support for local immigrants.
If any of this should end up on our doorstep, the words of the Rev. Martin Neimoller, who spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp for his resistance to that regime, will be my guide.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
During these uncertain times, we shall see which of our local elected officials is willing to take a stand for what is good and right. We will see who has the strength to speak up in defense of human dignity and common sense. Pay attention and then get to the ballot box this March in the Village of Greenport and next November for the Southold Town elections.
To my immigrant neighbors and constituents: I will be vigilant and I’ve got your back. And I am not the only one by a long shot. Stay in touch.
Greenporters will do as we always do: We will come together as a community and work together as neighbors and friends.
I have great faith in the people that make up this great village and I am honored to serve as your trustee.
The author is a Greenport Village trustee.