Board Again Passes on Immigration Resolution; Reaffirms Somers Is Welcoming Community


SOMERS, N.Y. - Town board members have repeatedly said Somers is a tolerant and inclusive community, but several residents say their words are not enough.

Months ago, the board took no action on a petition asking the town to give some protection against deportation to residents who live or work here illegally. After removing some of the petition’s more “contentious areas,” including the politically divisive “Sanctuary City” term, resident Michael Blum resubmitted his petition for adoption. The resolution focuses heavily on illegal immigrants being able to call on the services of first responders without fear of being deported.

Blum, speaking at the June 8 meeting, said he was disturbed by the board’s response to the first draft of his petition, saying some officials exhibited “visual angst” at the April 13 meeting. Prior to that meeting, board members disclosed to The Somers Record that they were not likely to adopt the petition. Blum said he took exception to Morrissey telling this paper that, “There are no people living in fear in the town of Somers” because of their undocumented status.

Sign Up for E-News

Blum said the board’s words and inaction “confirmed the fears” of immigrants who are living in Somers illegally.

“For those kids who are either painting swastikas, yelling racial epithets or simply making fun of immigrants who do not speak English, let me be clear, I am not condoning their actions, but I understand where the source of these acts come from,” Blum said. “A clear message needs to come from all of us, not just the town, that this is not who we are and the adults ought to know better.”

This time around, Blum was joined by several other residents who backed up his petition.

Heidi Cambareri said the town should follow the school district’s lead when it comes to taking stances on bullying. She said not adopting the petition reflects poorly on Somers and will discourage potential renters and homeowners from living here.

Virginia Goodfriend Sheridan said, contrary to what Morrissey said, hatred “is alive and well in Somers.”

“What are we saying to these people? Are we saying we’re open for some, but not all? We’re sending a pretty big message here,” Sheridan said.

Patricia Compton agreed, saying the board cannot understand the plight of its minority residents.

“I’m looking around the room here and there are no people of color that I am aware of,” Compton said. “I am here standing for my neighbors of color who have told me about the experiences of their children in their schools and their experiences within our town.”

Patrick De Sena, a former councilman, said it is up to local municipalities, like Somers, to push back against the “bullying” that is coming from the federal government. If the board took issue with the petition, he encouraged them to rework it until it was satisfactory to them.

“If we start at the local level, I think we can bring people together across this country,” De Sena said.

Morrissey told the speakers that he agreed with “98 percent” of their comments, but said municipal governments have no business adopting policies on immigration.

“These do not fall under the purview of the town,” Morrissey said.

In response to the initial petition, Morrissey published a statement on the town’s website reaffirming that Somers is a welcoming community. He said that immigrants living in Somers illegally need not worry about receiving the same access to emergency services because local first responders are not asking about immigration status.

Morrissey and Councilman Anthony Cirieco said, since the first petition was submitted in April, they have made a point of speaking with first responders and local religious groups about the plight of immigrants in the community.

“I’m not saying some people don’t feel what you feel, but I’m not getting a sense of what you’re expressing, although we do have [individual] issues that arise from time to time,” Cirieco said.

Adopting this resolution, he said, “puts the town squarely against the federal government” on immigration policies.

Councilman Richard Clinchy said there is nothing “less American” than asking a person about their immigration status based on their appearance, but added, “I don’t believe that happens in Somers at all.”

“No matter what we do, we all know you know we can’t control the actions of all people,” Clinchy said. “There are going to be people for whatever reasons they have, who are filled with hate, filled with bias, who will do things that almost all people will say, ‘Oh, that’s terrible.’”

Clinchy, though, said he would entertain a petition if it was not written “in a controversial way.” Last July, for example, the town board unanimously adopted a petition declaring that it would make a commitment to stamp out anti-Semitism.

“If there are people who we could make feel more comfortable with something that affirms American values of due process, then I’d say OK, it’s a good thing,” he said.

Councilman Thomas Garrity, who was not at the meeting, said the original petition submitted by Blum was too political for the town board. Just because a few buzzwords are removed, Garrity said, does not make it any less so.

“I always try to be apolitical,” Garrity said. “I believe when this petition was originally brought out, it was very political. We’ve managed to be very nonpolitical as a board. We’re obviously an inclusive community.”

Garrity cited the town board’s 2016 resolution on anti-Semitism and Morrissey’s statement on the town website that Somers is an inclusive community.

“I do not believe we need to reaffirm these things,” Garrity said.

Not pleased with their responses, Blum continued speaking from his seat in the audience.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” Blum said. “If you had a problem with it, then why didn’t you do what you said you were going to do last time, which is reword it?”

Cirieco offered to take the conversation “offline,” to which Blum responded, “You made your views very clear.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


The Feline Night Stalker

Shades of the late Darren McGavin! If you liked the ‘70s horror shows on TV, you knew him as Kolchak, crime reporter, in the series “The Night Stalker.”

It seems that I have a night stalker living with me. My kitty, Bonnie, had her 18th birthday in April and I’ve noticed some subtle changes in her behavior. Up until that time, Bonnie would sleep on my bed at night. She ...

Hitting the road, Part II

Welcome back to our little trip across these great United States. We left off somewhere on Route 90, heading out of Cleveland.

So glad to have you following along, and frankly, if you’re following I’m just glad you’re not the cops. On the way to Chicago I found myself driving 70 miles an hour, which made the police quite angry, since the speed limit was 75. 

When ...

Sabotaged by the DMV

After living in Manhattan for the last few years, my grandson, Chris, and my wonderful grand-daughter-in-law, Silvia, have decided to move back to his hometown of Westfield, N.J. Silvia has just returned from a four-day visit with her parents in Hong Kong and they are bunking with my daughter, Lisa, while preparing their new home. Because they now have a daily commute to the city, I decided to ...

Do it badly!

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly, at least to start. 

As a recovering perfectionist, I have learned to get started on a project even if I don’t have all the pieces together. Sometimes just puttering, tinkering or moving the parts around will help me sort out my brain enough to give me an idea of how to tackle a project.  

I can’t tell you how many times ...

What Kind of Sports Parent Are You?

Social media recently showered a lot of likes and love on a high school pitcher in Minnesota whose team was playing in a regional final that would send the winning team to the state championship game.

After the last batter of the game struck out, the pitcher did something unheard of. Rather than spontaneously join his teammates in an on-field celebration, as is customary, the pitcher ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, June 21, 6:00 PM

Yorktown Heights

2018 Kickball Registration is Open! Meet, Greet ...


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Yorktown Heights




Tue, June 26, 1:00 PM

Yorktown Heights



Excited for Somers Block Party June 30

June 20, 2018

Hello Somers:

The Town is excited this year to partner with the Somers Lions Club, Somers Chamber of Commerce and Sebastian Capital to offer a new kind of Independence Day celebration, at a new location, starting a new tradition with the 2018 Somers Block Party on June 30.

The Block Party will take place at Sebastian Capital’s 1 Pepsi Way property (across from King Kone) with gates ...