Following reports of an increase in aggressive tactics in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids throughout New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week issued a cease and desist letter to halt the enforcement actions or he says he will commence legal action.
Cuomo specifically cited the recent detaining and jailing of an employee at a dairy farm in Rome, NY in his letter:
“On the morning of April 18, farmer John Collins heard a commotion on his property. Upon investigation, he discovered plain-clothed ICE agents aggressively questioning one of his farm workers while pushing him up against a window. Concerned for his employee and aware that the man’s young children who had been waiting for the school bus were now watching their father being assaulted, Mr. Collins approached your agents to determine what was happening on his privately owned property and to video what was taking place with his cellphone. He was handcuffed and his cell phone was thrown on the ground. Your agents did not have a warrant to enter Mr. Collins’s property nor did they identify themselves or their purpose for being there. They handcuffed him and threatened to arrest him for properly exercising his constitutional rights.”
According to a report released by Farm Credit East, which is based on 2012 Census data, it is estimated approximately 1,080 New York farms would be impacted by the deportation of undocumented agricultural workers, forcing these farms to go out of business or significantly reduce their operations.
“The raids on New York farms and the arrests of our workers has left many farm families fearful and angry,” Richard A. Ball, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner said. “What is happening today has not only shaken the agricultural community, but these actions also have a real potential to impact our agricultural economy with the loss of farms, jobs, and production. I thank Governor Cuomo for standing up for our farmers and farm workers and for his commitment to ensure all New Yorkers have equal protection under the law.”
The announcement from Cuomo’s office estimates New York agricultural production would likely be reduced by more than $1.37 billion or 24% if all undocumented workers were deported, resulting in more than 21,500 on-farm workers losing their jobs, both immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens. Cuomo’s office also estimates the indirect impact could affect 23,490 workers employed in other agricultural-related fields, including agricultural marketing and processing businesses, farm suppliers and farm service businesses.