“Your papers, please”

My friend Jeremy Paretsky - whose sermon on the knowledge of God was posted here some time ago - is now the Sub-Prior (administrator) of a small Dominican Order house in New York.  A man who works for him - a legal permanent resident of the United States, the father of two natural-born U.S. citizens - just had a deeply troubling experience with Donald Trump’s “unshackled” ICE. He was stopped for no reason other than his appearance, treated rudely, manhandled, held for interrogation for 90 minutes, and finally released without any apology or explanation other than that the stop was “routine”: which implies that it could be repeated at any time.

In the movies of my childhood, the cold-faced men demanding “Your papers, please” had German or Russian accents.  I preferred it that way.

This event makes me think that whatever the shackles were, they need to be put back in place.  Fr. Paretsky’s letter to Sen. Gillibrand follows.  I can provide his contact information to any journalist or lawyer who would like to follow up.

The good news is that Sen. Gillibrand has offered to help. The bad news is that the victim of this outrage - I repeat, a legal permanent resident of this country, who has been accused of no wrongdoing of any kind - is too afraid to allow his name to be used.  In the United States of America.

Footnote Do you routinely carry documents proving that you’re a U.S. citizen? Neither do I.

March 3, 2017

The Honorable Kirsten E. Gillibrand
780 3rd Ave, #2601
New York, NY 10017

Dear Senator Gillibrand:

At the recommendation of Vicki Ger, esq. I am sending you this report to be forwarded to the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility. The subject is an employee of St. Vincent Ferrer Priory (Dominican Fathers, Province of St. Joseph) in New York.

The man is from the Dominican Republic, lives in the Bronx, and has been employed full time by the Dominican Fathers as a handyman since 2011. He has lived legally in the U.S. for over twenty years. He is married — his wife is applying for U.S. citizenship – and has two children.

On February 20th he left home early to come to St. Vincent Ferrer to catch up on work. At approximately 4:30 a.m. he changed trains at the 86th Street subway stop in Manhattan and was on the platform when several agents of ICE approached. Some other men ran away, but our man saw no reason to run. He says he knew they were ICE because the name was on their shirts.

They grabbed him and demanded ID. When he reached for his pocket, they held him tight and began to frisk him. He said, “Don’t touch me. You want an ID; I am trying to show you my ID.” One of the men replied, “Tough guy, huh?” and they took him to a small room in the station, where they interrogated him for 90 minutes. They told him they were making a routine check for illegals. He showed them his “green card”. That was not satisfactory. He showed them a letter attesting to his employment by the Dominican Fathers; they would not accept the letter because it was from 2015. He showed them the stub of his latest paycheck. After 90 minutes they let him go.

He does not want me to use his name, because he is afraid that if word gets out that he has made a complaint, they will continue to harass him. He is already fearful for his seven-year old son, who still goes to school, though some classmates now do not.

I want to express my outrage that anyone in our country and especially in our city should be treated in this high-handed way. Treating all people who look “foreign” as potential criminals tears the very social fabric which has held our country together for so long.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.


(Rev.) Jeremy L. Paretsky
Subprior and Treasurer, St. Vincent Ferrer Priory



Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on ““Your papers, please””

  1. While I certainly share your outrage at this incident, let's be blunt. It's not just Trump.

    The immigrant-hatred didn't start in November. And the tolerance for this sort of thing is not limited to a few loons. The ideas and attitudes behind this are held by many on the right, and it's past time for those who want to be considered "decent conservatives" to speak out, and not just against this particular form of madness.

  2. The letter allows ready identification of the Dominican worker, from the date and time of the stop and the employment address. The promise not to use his name does nor really offer him protection from a vengeful Stasi-type bureaucracy. It can only work if the organisation is not corrupted from the top, and the ICE agents are acting without orders.

    I see no escape from the ethical dilemma. To be effective, a complaint has to give enough details for the victim to be identifiable, and this to some extent places them at risk.

  3. Please support California SB54 which requires CA government agencies not to cooperate with CBP and ICE. This will prevent them from obtaining the undocumented persons drivers license database, school records, hospital records, etc. and prevent police and fire fighters from cooperating in raids. There are various citizens groups that are organizing to support people targeted in these raids here in California. Check in your area to participate in or contribute to one of these. FIABA, PICO, ACLU are some.

  4. Kleiman you have no integrity whatsoever in your posts: the way your friend has been treated as victim is nothing
    compared to the way your other friend Alm is bullying the legal system to promote HOPE probation! What do you post
    for the Lasalo Ulugalu-Sula family whose 16 year old son was murdered by a HOPE probationer kept illegally on a
    single term of probation by Alm over 7 years despite 17 new charges (including several felonies)? How can you
    denounce a 90 min incident without consequences while at the same time you promote a criminal program that led to
    several murders to fit statistics of a self promoted program built on lies?

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