Members of Kensington’s Bangladeshi Muslim community are afraid the government will deport them or their loved ones following the election of Donald Trump, local leaders said during a community gathering on Friday.
“People are talking about fear,” said Mamnunul Haq, a longtime Kensington resident and a member of Community Board 12. “They’re talking about deportations, Muslim-banning. People with green cards are thinking, ‘If I go to my country, maybe I won’t be able to come back.’ ”
Residents huddled with local pols and activists at Avenue C Plaza, where leaders promised hope and help after Tuesday’s election.
Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington) assured the congregation that New York is a “sanctuary” for immigrants, who benefit from the city’s identification card and a Police Department that doesn’t turn over undocumented immigrants for deportation as a matter of policy.
But it was little comfort to members of the neighborhood’s sizable population of undocumented Bangladeshi residents, who are frightened given the president-elect’s previous vows to ban all Muslim immigration and deport people who have come to the U.S. illegally, Haq said.
“People are scared, especially people who don’t have documentation,” he said.
Other speakers offered immigrants comfort by letting them know they do have rights, and there are legal services available to help fight anyone facing deportation.
“A lot of people assume that they don’t have rights and when equipped with that knowledge, they’re quick to wield it,” said Tarek Ismail, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law. “Those in power abuse the fact that people don’t know what rights they have.”
Both Mayor DeBlasio and Gov. Cuomo doubled down on New York’s commitment to providing a safe haven for immigrants after Trump’s win, with DeBlasio promising on Thursday to fight any attempt the president makes to get a hold of the names of undocumented residents in the city’s IDNYC database.
The future Commander in Chief has threatened to withhold unspecified “funding” to cities that don’t cooperate with his deportation plans — although exactly what those will be are a little fuzzy right now.
The president-elect previously pledged to boot all 11-million undocumented immigrants from the country, but said in a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday that he will start with those who have criminal records, and then make a “determination” on the rest — “terrific people,” he said — once “the border is secured.”
Trump pal and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that the real-estate mogul no longer plans to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. — only Syrian refugees, and to do “extreme vetting” on those from certain other countries — although Trump still has a statement on his website calling for just that.
Trump also said during his campaign that all American Muslims should have to register in a national database and he wants to increase surveillance of mosques.
Lander’s office is currently working with Ismail and the attorneys of Brooklyn Defender Services to organize legal workshops in Kensington in the future.