March 11, 2019
U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) was joined uptown today by immigration advocates to speak out against the recent incident by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents that were spotted parked outside of a Washington Heights school and in violation of sensitive locations parameters.
Last Thursday CBP agents parked their official vehicle on the sidewalk in front of Castle Bridge PS 153 on Broadway and W169 St while they went into Famous Famiglia Pizzeria across the street for lunch. According to Principal Julia Zuckerman they “showed no concern for the effect on the schoolchildren or their parents.” She went on to say that the “parking was an act of intimidation, not an accident. We will not be intimidated.” Zuckerman said the school is working on training for students and their parents who might be impacted by immigration enforcement. She and several parents who spoke with the Gazette said none had been targeted yet, to their knowledge. One parent described how the frio frio and other after-school snack vendors who normally lined the sidewalk had all but disappeared.
“Considering our current political climate and policies being put forth by the Trump administration, immigrant communities are on edge,” Espaillat said. “We are standing united and speaking out to ensure immigrant families remain vigilant and safe when taking their kids to school, going to places of worship, or seeking critical public services or assistance throughout the community.”
Espaillat cited an article in the Nation magazine that said ICE internally distributed an “Anti-Trump Protest Spreadsheet 07/31/2018” that listed the uptown response to Identity Evropa’s anti-immigrant “Stop the Invasion” banner unfurl at the Cloisters a few days earlier. The white supremacy group had targeted a neighborhood which is still home to some Holocaust survivors, he said. He also shared that he’d brought up the CBP parking incident with Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The House is working on an immigration reform package that includes restrictions on ICE/CBP activity at sensitive locations, he told the Gazette. “We’ve been told that ICE/CBP doesn’t target schools and other sensitive locations but we know that’s not the case.”
Espaillat was joined today by City Council Member Mark Levine; Angela Fernandez and Alba Lucero Villa from Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Kim Sykes from New York Immigration Coalition; and Julia Zuckerman, Castle Bridge School Principal.