Teach-in Symposium Addresses Zero Tolerance

MIDDLETOWN – “We have reached a new low in this country,” said Tania Mattos of UnLocal, the New York City-based legal immigration organization. She was the keynote speaker at a teach-in/symposium in Middletown on Sunday to address the zero tolerance policy of the Trump Administration.

Mattos, who came to the US from her native Bolivia when she was four, said the immigration situation in America has gotten worse.

“Unfortunately this is not new to the United States in terms of imprisoning folks throughout the history, but right now we feel we are living in these times,” Mattos said. “We would think we would learn from our history, but we have not, obviously.”

New York Civil Liberties Union Regional Director Shannon Wong attended the symposium conducted by Reunite Families OCNY, created since children were separated from their parents when they crossed the southern border into the United States in recent weeks and months.

She said some adults are incarcerated in Albany with children being housed in Westchester and Kingston.

“There are over 300 people in the Albany jail right now who have been separated from their families at the border and recently some colleagues of mine toured the jail in Albany to see what the conditions were like there,” Wong said. “I think we have some concerns about the conditions but I will say it seems like the sheriff is willing to work with us and they may be moving them to a more suitable situation.”

Wong said service providers and criminal justice professionals were not prepared for the impacts of the zero tolerance policy.