Ardelio Reyes says he was not surprised to be the only one at city hall on Thursday applying for municipal ID.
Reyes says he understands immigrants who fear coming to handle their everyday business because of the fiasco the day before, on Wednesday, where ICE agents attempted to detain a man pursuant — according to ICE — to an administrative warrant, not a criminal warrant signed by a judge.
Middletown police say the ICE agents first made contact with the person they were trying to detain in the council chambers, but when they went to put their arms on him he fought back, got away from them, left the room, and then led them on a chase through the building.
Reyes says the immigrant community's relationship with the city is still strong despite ICE agents being free to come into city buildings and courts at any time. He adds though, with Wednesday's incident and how public that was, it explains why some immigrants are staying away.
This distance bothers Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson volunteer Rey Virgen and Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano.
"I came this morning to help people, and few people came to get the IDs. I feel real bad because nobody is coming here. I was talking [to immigrants] in the street, and they don't want to come in here because they're afraid," Virgen said.
"Public buildings should be safe for anyone — whether undocumented or documented — to come into. Our whole ID program is based on that premise. I think what happened here undermines that whole relationship between police and the undocumented community," DeStefano said.
The mayor has been in contact with representatives in Washington to share concerns, and encouraged the community to do the same.
In a statement, ICE said despite attempts to obstruct a lawful apprehension, they remain committed to public safety.