Government

Proposed immigration resolution discussed again in North Salem

358c66564fe2a64ca77e_File_Jun_28__12_38_46_PM__2_.jpeg
A crowd packs into North Salem Town Hall Credits: Photo: Sue Guzman
0cc2d36f911ea84fd2ec_File_Jun_28__12_39_00_PM.jpeg
Christopher Brockmeyer addresses the town board about the proposed immigration resolution. Credits: Photo: Sue Guzman
8488db4c3c68e748ee50_File_Jun_28__12_40_24_PM.jpeg
Councilwoman Lisa Douglas makes a point at last week's meeting. Credits: Photo: Sue Guzman
f2da74c326b0dc0fe2c5_Statement_North_Salem_3_15_2017.jpg
Draft of resolution read at meeting by Supervisor Warren Lucas
358c66564fe2a64ca77e_File_Jun_28__12_38_46_PM__2_.jpeg

(NORTH SALEM,N.Y.) --Dozens of residents packed into a North Salem Town Board meeting last Tuesday, which had been scheduled to discuss a proposed immigration resolution, only to learn that the work session item had been removed from the agenda at the last minute.
While a public hearing was not scheduled, many of those in attendance in the standing room only crowd were permitted to speak to the board on the proposed measure.
The Town Board first began considering a resolution on immigration in March that had been proposed by Supervisor Warren Lucas. Similar measures had been adopted in several other Westchester communities, including Mamaroneck, Bedford and Irvington, where the municipalities vowed that local police would not enforce federal immigration laws and round up undocumented immigrants.
The initial draft took a cue from the Town of Bedford, which had passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and racial divisiveness in the town, and also addressed the issue of illegal immigration.
During the initial discussion in March Deputy Supervisor Peter Kamenstein called the proposed measure, “a timely opportunity to reaffirm our principles in North Salem.” Board members Lisa Douglas and Brent Golisano expressed concern over Bedford’s resolution since it specifically named President Trump, something both felt was too political.
Following a backlash from members in the community, the North Salem Town Board decided to table, or shelve, the proposed immigration resolution.
Speaking at the meeting last Tuesday, Lucas explained why it was tabled several months ago.
“I was quite unimpressed with the town’s maturity on the whole issue, quite frankly,” said Lucas. “I was really taken aback with how everybody was yelling at everybody else and there weren’t any discussions. I just said ‘I’ve had it, I’m not going to move anything forward.’”
The item was once again put on the June 27 agenda by Kamenstein, who did so at the request of a couple of town residents who asked that the issue be revisited. It was removed at the last minute.
Many of those in attendance at last Tuesday’s meeting were unaware that the agenda had been revised, however town board members allowed several people in attendance to weigh in.
Christopher Brockmeyer urged the town board members to reconsider the proposed immigration resolution.
“I share your sentiment that this has spiraled out of control. It was not meant in any way to be divisive or a political issue, or anything other than a re-affirmation of what we believe our town already to be. And, that’s that we are an inclusive society and community and won’t tolerate racism or anti-Semitism or hatred,” he said.
Brockmeyer said the resolution, if approved, would serve to send a message to the immigrant community. “For those non-documented workers who live in this town and who work in this town, and provide a vital service to the farms and the lawns and gardens that are maintained, [this resolution] provides a re-affirmation that they should feel comfortable should they have first responder issues. It looks worse not to do anything to reaffirm those principles,” he said.
The sentiment was echoed by the interim pastor of St. James Episcopal Church in North Salem, the Rev. Stephen Holton.
“In a climate of fear, we absorb people’s fears. The reason to stand up is to show people we care,” he said. Resident Barbara Sanorelli addressed the board with her concerns.
“I’d like to think that we can come to the table with our different ideas and use language that we can agree upon and showcase how great North Salem is, because we can continue a dialogue and come out of it with a resolution that we can agree on.”
Former Councilwoman Amy Rosmarin described an email sent to her from Supervisor Lucas in which he said much of the opposition was coming from people on the Republican Town Committee.
“This town used to be more Republicans. Now it’s about even. We didn’t elect them, we elected you guys,” she said, “So they can’t give you your marching orders for the town. It’s just not fair.”
Kamenstein responded.
“We didn’t table this because it was a political issue. We tabled it because we felt it was going to create a tremendously unfavorable impression of our town. Maybe we should’ve come to a resolution, but it had nothing to do with politics,” he said.
Douglas said the reason the measure was tabled was that she and fellow councilmember Brent Golisano didn’t support it.
“We are not owned by any party or any person and to insinuate that is just vulgar. I have no words,” Douglas said.
Douglas talked about a meeting she had several months ago with members of the community who presented her with a petition with about 150 signatures calling on the town board to adopt the immigration resolution.
“We love North Salem. We understand the value of your words, ‘undocumented immigrants,’ [and] our words, ‘illegal,’ said Douglas. “The way this started in Bedford, the first three paragraphs were about our president of the United States of America, and we wanted nothing to do with it.”
Despite repeated requests from residents to vote on a resolution right away, the Town Board opted to table it again until a future board meeting.
“We implore you to make a decision,” said Andrew Pelosi. “If you don’t agree with the resolution then vote no, if you do agree with the resolution then vote yes, and let’s move on,” he said.
Golisano explained why the Town Board was holding off on a vote.
“I think it should go to another work session because I don’t think the room fully represents everyone in town. This was originally on the agenda, then it was removed, and people who would’ve been here are not here and may have had something else to say,” Golisano explained.
Councilman Martin Aronchick, who has been helping to craft the wording of the resolution, agreed.
“Brent was entirely right in giving it more time. It was on the agenda. It was off the agenda. Everyone should have an opportunity to weigh in. We want to come up with something that’s acceptable to everyone,” he explained.
Supervisor Lucas read a revised draft of the immigration resolution at the meeting, which stated in part, “Our police department practices are designed to promote mutual respect and to maintain an open dialogue 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.”
Lucas said the immigration measure will likely be discussed at the next board meeting on July 11. He said it’s possible there could be a vote on that date, but says if the work session generates additional questions then the board will need more time to reformulate the wording of the resolution.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Salem

She had file envy

Who says paperwork is not sexy?! This week, I was so impressed (and even charmed) by the paperwork and systems of two different women. I was even a little envious. In the first case, my client Lois in Ardsley decided that it was time to get her paperwork in order. After six years of shifting paperwork, a dysfunctional home office, an international move and the purchase of a new home, she had HAD ...

Bias in Media, in Me, in You

While listening to an interview with a voter on my car radio, I thought I had excess ear wax that obstructed my hearing. The voter (whose name is Bruce) said this about one of the qualifications that a Senate or House candidate must have to earn his vote: “I don’t want anyone with ideas. We have enough of those already.”

I’m a journalist and have been one my entire ...

Southern Discomfort: ‘Crimes of the Heart’

Editor’s Note: The author of this review is a board member of Axial Theatre.

Siblings cackling over their grandpappy’s coma.

A 24-year-old bride who says she shot and wounded her wealthy, hot-shot husband because she doesn’t like his looks (and doesn’t much care for the sound of his voice, either).

A 27-year-old aspiring singer-actress who puts on airs that ...

Cross My Legs and Hope to Die

One morning, I had a big cup of coffee as I usually do, and then I got in the car and drove 40 minutes to a clothing store I had been curious to check out. I don’t normally drive 40 minutes to go shopping, but since I am a stay-at-home mom and everyone knows we stay-at-home moms just spend our time shopping and eating bonbons, I figured, “What the hey.”

Having had the ...

Pretty in Raspberry Pink

“I got a pedicure today,” I said to my husband, showing off my freshly painted toes glimmering from beneath my flip flops.  “What do you think?”

“They’re orange,” he said. 

“They’re not orange,” I corrected him. “They’re cantaloupe.” He blinked a couple of times trying to process this irrelevant piece of ...

Veatch Fund to Award Six Student Scholarships

May 16, 2018

Six graduating seniors from local high schools will be awarded 2018 Justin Veatch Fund music scholarships in June. This year’s recipients are Chloe Collins of Calvert Academy, Justin Giacchetto of North Salem High School, Justin Hahn of Peekskill High School, Noah Mattison of Harrison High School, Alicia McMillan of The Ursuline School, and Chris Paraggio of Carmel High School.

The ...