Serrano Fights For Immigrant Rights In Letter To 52nd Precinct

José M. Serrano

November 01, 2007

Deputy Inspector James Alles
52nd Police Precinct, NYPD
3016 Webster Avenue
Bronx, NY 10467

Deputy Inspector Alles:

I write to you with great concern for residents of the north Bronx.

Over the past month, East 196th Street has witnessed a number of muggings. The victims were very often undocumented immigrants coming home from work late at night. This has been confirmed by media reports in the New York Times, and also direct communication with community leaders.

As you know, crimes directed against undocumented immigrants present a number of challenges. Due to lack of reporting such incidents, it is difficult for the police to gather accurate statistics. Moreover, these immigrants often carry their wages in cash, making them attractive targets for crime.

The Washington Post has reported on a similar trend in the suburbs of Maryland, where criminals boast of "amigo shopping." Police in Prince William County have even created a task force in response. I believe a similar action deserves consideration in the Bronx.

Specifically, East 196th Street needs more foot patrols during the most dangerous times of night. Perhaps we can also look into the possibility of a shuttle bus or van that departs from the subway station at regular intervals.

I should also mention the importance of Executive Order 41, signed by Mayor Bloomberg on September 17, 2003, which prohibited city agencies and police from inquiring as to an individual’s immigration status so long as the individual is not engaged in illegal activity.

Undocumented immigrants should thus feel more comfortable reporting crimes and cooperating with police. The police and district attorney’s office, for their part, must do all they can to follow the letter and spirit of Executive Order 41.

It is my understanding that East 196th Street has been included in "High Impact Zones" on several occasions. While this is important, and I think your precinct has done a commendable job, we must also look toward longer-lasting, deep-rooted initiatives to combat crimes against immigrants.

To be sure, the area in question is located just outside the geographic boundaries of my Senate district, but it certainly affects those people living in my district, not to mention across the borough. As such, I want to be a partner in this fight, along with the police, elected officials, community leaders and, most importantly, the residents themselves.

There is no more important time for such a coalition than the present. Our state, our country, even our television screen is awash in anti-immigrant rhetoric – the kind of language that seeks only to dehumanize our friends and neighbors.

Let us respond with a strong, united voice, and a stated commitment to helping those in need. Undocumented workers must feel safe on the very streets where they live, and in a city built on immigration no less.

Thank you for your time and hard work. I look forward to hearing back from you.


José M. Serrano

cc: Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly
Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson