Town Immigration Plan on Hold

Supervisor Warren Lucas discusses dropping the immigration resolution. Credits: Sue Guzman

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— Following a backlash from members in the community, the North Salem Town Board has decided to temporarily shelve an immigration resolution that was initially discussed at its March 15 meeting.

The measure was up for discussion again at its March 28 meeting.  Board members said they had received numerous calls and emails from concerned residents urging them to reconsider the resolution, and as a result, they have opted to put it on hold until a future meeting when they can discuss it further with Deputy Supervisor Peter Kamenstein, who was absent from the meeting, along with North Salem Police Chief Thomas Howley.

The proposed resolution discussed on March 15 was twofold. One part of the resolution sought to go on record as condemning anti-Semitism, following the recent spate of anti-Semitic vandalism incidents at John Jay High School in Lewisboro. Swastikas were found scrawled in school bathrooms on four occasions, prompting the Bedford Town Board to draft a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.

Sign Up for E-News

Like the Bedford resolution, North Salem included wording addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

A preliminary draft read:

The Town Board of the Town of North Salem wants to affirmatively state that we always have been and continue to be a community that protects the rights of all of its residents regardless of their national origin.

Our police department practices are designed to promote mutual respect and to maintain an open dialog with our community. This is why we believe that immigration enforcement is not the role of the town. The town will, however, coordinate with federal authorities to apprehend those individuals, regardless of their immigration status, that threaten the safety of our community.

The Town of North Salem Police Department has not in the past, nor will it, inquire about an individual’s immigration status. Enforcement of federal immigration law is the responsibility of the federal government and its various enforcement agencies.

Councilman Martin Aronchick, who had been tasked with writing the resolution, argued to keep the anti-Semitism language in the measure.

“One thing that concerned me were the instances of anti-Semitism in the area. (County Executive) Rob Astorino has created a task force to advise temples on security measures, so it’s a live issue,” he said, adding that he referenced that in the updated draft of the resolution.

But at its meeting on March 28, Supervisor Warren Lucas explained the reason for reconsidering the immigration portion of the resolution.

“We have gotten a lot of complaints about sanctuary cities and things of that nature. There’s probably a way of doing what you’d like to do,” he said referring to Aronchick, “ I didn’t think it was going to be very divisive, but it turns out it has become so. So that whole thing with the immigrant status, I’m happy to take that out,” Lucas said.

Lucas went on to explain that he was surprised by the backlash against the proposed resolution.

“It kind of amazes me. You think you’re doing something that’s purposeful and worthwhile and that it can get as much out of hand as it has, with emails and things of that nature,”  he said.

He then made a motion to table the original resolution, as it was worded, and go forward with one that simply addresses anti-Semitism.

“It’s turned something that I thought was very inclusive and pulled people together, and it’s caused more problems,” Lucas said.

Councilman Brent Golisano agreed with the plan of action.

“One of the questions I have asked is why we should do something like this. We all took an oath of office swearing to uphold the constitution of the State of New York and the U.S. Constitution, and all of the issues that are in these two resolutions are already covered by those two documents that we have sworn to uphold. “

“I don’t really feel this is the business of the town board. Things such as solar energy issues, even issues of revaluation, those issues in my opinion have to do with running the town. I am of the opinion that we could really table both of the resolutions, at the very least until Peter (Kamenstein) is here and (Police) Chief Howley,” said Golisano.

Aronchick countered by explaining that while working on the wording of the resolution, he didn’t “change the substance in any way,” except to reference the employee handbook.”

“I appreciate that,” responded Golisano, “But I still come back to the very simple question as to why this board would make an affirmative political statement like that.”

Councilwoman Lisa Douglas expressed relief that the resolution is being tabled.

“If we really, really analyze the emails we’ve received, North Salem has two specific instances where we all could understand why this hit a horrible nerve,” Douglas said, referring to two cases where crimes were committed by illegal immigrants in North Salem in recent years. While she didn’t specifically name them, Douglas was referencing the recent arrests of two undocumented immigrants who worked at the Colley estate and were convicted of stealing more than $30,000 in hay from the family.

The murder of North Salem resident Lois Colley has not been solved, and there are unconfirmed reports that the killing may have been committed by an undocumented immigrant who has since left the country.

In 2005, North Salem High School student Elizabeth Butler was raped and murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend, 28-year-old Ariel Menendez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

“So, it’s (the resolution) not necessary at this point,” Douglas said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Salem

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Sat, March 24, 3:30 PM


Easter Egg Hunt at the farm!

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, March 27, 10:00 AM

Solaris Sports Club, Yorktown Heights

Yorkville Sports Association Kicks Off 40 Years ...

Giving Back Sports

Political Blinders

A few weeks back, I saw an advertisement for a session at a writer’s conference titled, “Living in an alt-right world.” 

“How can people still believe this nonsense?” I thought to myself. And then I made the mistake of allowing it to trigger me. I know for a fact that we are not now and never have been living in an alt-right world. The problem is that framing ...

Trump's Cowardice

I certainly have not been a supporter or a friend of President Donald J. Trump. But even though I publicly called him “a liar, a louse, a crook and a bum,” I have never accused him of being a coward, but now I see that Trump has backed down on his proposal to limit gun sales to people 21 years of age or older.

Wayne LaPierre, the leader of the National Rifle Association, objected ...

Ready for the Next Storm?

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is another storm in the forecast.” At this point, the weather people are as welcome as the grim reaper! Here in the Northeast, we are battle-weary from these major winter storms. Right now, I’d rather be talking about tulips and jelly beans, but it’s still winter and the best way to not lose our minds is to be prepared for the next ...

To Harrison, L'Chaim!

At long last, the smile of spring approaches, as an angry winter recedes into good riddance. Our spirit is ready to be re-charged. Damn the power outages, full speed ahead!

For my wife, Elyse, daughter, Elissa, and me, this otherwise exuberant time of year brings a confusion of mixed emotions. In 2003, on the opening day of spring, March 20, which happens to be my birthday, our 15-year-old son ...

A Half-Baked Column

“I think it’s time we retired this oven,” I said to my husband as I displayed a sheet of blackened sweet potato fries. “Even the dog won’t eat these.”

“Sure he will,” he said, tossing some fries on the floor. The dog immediately sucked them down.

“Not my point,” I said.

We had known that our oven was on its last burners for ...

When It's Not OK to Ask If Everything's OK

There is this thing that I do that annoys the heck out of my family. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things I do that annoy the heck out of my family, but I am thinking of one thing in particular.

Whenever someone is in the bathroom for what I determine to be an abnormally long period of time, I stand outside the bathroom door and yell,


I ...

I'm All Pumped Up

This time last year, I struggled with my New Year’s resolution to go to the gym.

This year, I have made significant progress. I am going to the gym on a semi-regular basis. And by semi-regular, I mean, I go often enough that I actually remember where it’s located between visits.

The bad news, however, is that my workouts are just, how would you say it? Lame. Yes, they’re ...

Mental Health Needs to Be Addressed Before Gun Laws

March 21, 2018

To the editor:

In his March 8 column “Stop gun carnage,” Herb Geller identified the cause of deadly gun violence, but then he skipped right past it instead of exploring it further and  seeking solutions.

All of the mass killings have been perpetrated by (Geller’s term) MANIACS. The police were called to the home of Nikolas Cruz on 39 occasions, yet he was never ...

Winter Weather Cuts Through North Salem

March 12, 2018

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-Operating under a state of emergency, the town opened up a warming center at the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Saturday, March 3, welcoming in from the cold those who lost electricity.

Supervisor Warren Lucas voiced his frustration over the power outages several times over the weekend, unable to provide residents with adequate information.

On Saturday, Lucas drove ...