New Immigration Forum Friday in Hampton Bays - and a comment

from The East Hampton Star and Long Island Wins blog:

Rep. Tim Bishop, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Southampton Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst have formed a new coalition to address immigration issues and will host a forum on the subject on Friday, March 13 in Hampton Bays.

Titled "Immigration in the Hamptons: Beginning a Community Dialogue." it will be held at the Southampton Senior Center on Ponquogue Ave. at 6pm.

In a press release Mr. Bishop said "This coalition is a proactive effort to bring issues in the light, have a rational discussion of the impact of immigration on our community and ultimately bring people together."

Speakers include: Joanne Loewenthal, Superintendent of Hampton Bays Schools; Laura Anker, Professor of American Studies, SUNY-Old Westbury; Julio Gonzalez, Associate Professor of Education, SUNY-Old Westbury; Robert Chaloner, CEO of Southampton Hospital; and representatives from the Long Island Farm Bureau and the Montauk Chamber of Commerce.


Some of us thought we began a "rational discussion" on these issues as far back as 2003 when among others, OLA and the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons had public forums on problems associated with immigration including issues associated with hiring day-laborers. Local leaders including notably Mayor Mark Epley of Southampton attempted to provide solutions. The public was not ready. Suffolk County legislators passed redundant local laws about who should be hired to do work for the County. A County Executive played the race-baiting card. Teens attacked immigrants for sport and they killed a young man from Ecuador.

Farmingville and Patchogue were the beginning. Violent attacks on immigrants continue all across the country. As the economy winds down jobs dissappear and low paid immigrants become scapegoats.

We hope that this new attempt at dialogue produces some positive results. Here are some suggestions:

Start by getting the facts and publicize them:
Pass a local minimum wage law and enforce it.
Finally allow those private entities who want to regulate the hiring process do so.

tony ernst
March 11, 2009