The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced the opening a new bureau Thursday for immigrant affairs.
The Office of Immigrant Affairs will focus prosecutors and investigators to prosecute crimes targeting immigrants and work to bridge relationships between immigrants and law enforcement, district attorney’s officials said.
The new office, which has joined the New York State District Attorney’s League of Immigrant Affairs, will work with immigrant victims and witnesses, encouraging immigrants victimized by crimes to come forward.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said some communities and immigrants are vulnerable to being preyed on by gangs, human trafficking, and financial abuse such as wage theft and the selling of fraudulent documents like Social Security cards.
“All residents of Suffolk County are entitled to have their safety and rights protected. Unfortunately, all too often, members of immigrant communities are apprehensive to come forward when they have been victimized or witnessed a crime,” Sini said in a statement. “With the launch of this dedicated team, we want to send a message that we are here to help, regardless of your background or what language you speak. Every resident deserves equal access to justice and we are committed to making sure all victims and witnesses have the care and assistance they need when navigating the criminal justice system.”
District attorney officials said they will reach out to immigrant communities in Suffolk County and accept complaints from immigrant victims and advocates. The new office is also planned to support investigations and prosecutors, by hiring a new Spanish-speaking victim advocate, a translator and Spanish-speaking paralegals.
Brittany Bye, a senior community organizer with the Patchogue-based organization Sepa Mujer which advocates for immigrant women, said it’s important for the district attorney and law enforcement to have collaboration and input from immigrant groups to protect them from crimes. She said there has been an increase of hate crimes against day laborers.
“It’s another step to create a relationship with immigrant communities so they can feel safe and share what makes a safer community,” Bye said. “This creates a way to have a form of dialogue so the immigrant community can’t feel afraid to call police and feel like there is support that’s not there now.”
The new district attorney’s office will help assistant district attorneys understand the consequence of immigration status for particular crimes and sets up an email address and hotline to take tips on crimes targeting immigrant victims.
The Office of Immigrant Affairs can be reached by calling 631-852-2950 or emailing ImmigrantAffairsDA@suffolkcountyny.gov