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Top Stories 2017: Immigration issues on many minds

This year saw immigration issues brought to the forefront, from demonstrations to community discussions to ramped-up arrests of undocumented individuals. 

The Southold Town Anti-Bias Task Force organized “Synergy” meetings to encourage community members and officials to open respectful dialogue on local issues. At one event held in Greenport on Jan. 30, a resident asked whether local police would be informed about Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

Feb. 16 was dubbed “A day without immigrants,” a nationwide movement in which local businesses either closed or allowed employees to boycott work for a day to demonstrate how important the immigrant population is in this country. A couple hundred demonstrators across the East End marched down Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays chanting things like “No human is illegal” in Spanish.

March saw a Riverhead-North Fork Unity Town Hall, which aimed to bring together people of different backgrounds.

Immigration reform dominated a meeting Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) held with farmers in April. Attendees were looking for a stable and legal workforce.

In a few instances, local immigration attorneys held forums to answer questions from the community about ICE and deportation. Attorneys said they saw panic, fear and confusion about deportation and looked to dispel misinformation.

ICE announced operations in which individuals who entered the United States illegally and had prior convictions were arrested, including arrests made in Riverhead and Calverton in November.

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Photo caption: David Sperling, left, and Michael Nappo spoke at the Riverhead Library at an immigration forum in April. (Credit: Nicole Smith)