Taking Dictation: Shame on Lee Zeldin for Ceding to Trump’s Pet Project

Lee Zeldin at podium in Southampton

It’s now apparent that the only thing standing in the way of President Trump’s simply dictating what he wants done, and then having people scurry off to do it or else, is the Supreme Court. Until a week ago, it included Congress. But now that’s gone.

Last week, enough Congress members raised their hands to agree to give up their right to do what we sent them there to do—make laws and decide on where taxpayer money is spent. Unable to overturn an upcoming veto, it means it’s now okay for them to be a go-along Congress.

Among those tiptoeing over to the great leader and clicking his heels was our very own Congressman Lee Zeldin, who, given his background, should know better.

Zeldin not only voted against the plan to scuttle Trump’s “National Emergency,” he also issued a press release aligning himself with one of Trump’s pet projects—allowing ICE agents to seize people while in police custody for matters such as a domestic dispute or driving while impaired.

The trick to making this happen is that the local police, instead of keeping someone in custody for the few hours through arraignment and release to a later trial date, hang onto them in jail longer than they would normally be kept. While they are in jail, ICE is called in to take them away for deportation consideration.

This despicable behavior, which was demanded by Trump, went on for a little while here in Suffolk County—the Riverhead correctional facility reportedly had a special lockup that was paid for with ICE money—until the New York Supreme Court ruled that it could not go on. State and local police departments are not in the immigration seizure business.

Here are the specifics in the case People ex rel. Wells v. DeMarco. A man named Susai Francis—a citizen of India living in Northport who had overstayed his visa but had been here 20 years—was charged with violating a Family Court order of protection, court documents said. He was detained, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to time served, but instead of being released, was held in a jail cell without any further charges against him, simply on the say-so of ICE, the lawsuit stated, who said they were interested in him. He should have been let go, as anyone else with no further charges.

As a result of the court ruling, sheriffs in both Suffolk and Nassau issued instructions to their officers to obey the law set down by the State Supreme Court, and the practice ended.

Congressman Zeldin’s support of Mr. Trump’s pet project, after voting to give up Congress’s authority on the “Emergency,” was spelled out in a press release urging the police departments in Suffolk County to do three things. 1) Increase cooperation with ICE. 2) Allow ICE a restored presence in detention facilities. 3) Allow ICE to delegate authority to local police forces so the local police could act as ICE deputies.

Make no mistake. ICE is doing exactly the same thing to people that the KGB, the Guardia Civil and the Gestapo did in another place at another time. Seize and incarcerate people who are “unwanted” in (name of country) without due process.

The county police chief responded to Zeldin’s request by ignoring him, and having an assistant tell the press that the Chief will continue to follow the law as set down by the State Supreme Court.

Shame on our Congressman for not following his conscience, for not doing the right thing, for fearing retribution from his leader, for agreeing to give up the rights and obligations given him by the Constitution and for urging a seize-and-incarcerate program that is simply vile on its very face.

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