DA SINI ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE OF IMMIGRANT AFFAIRS
Dedicated Team of Prosecutors and Staff Will Help Protect Immigrant Communities Targeted by Criminal Schemes, Improve Relationships between Immigrant Communities and Law Enforcement
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announces the launch of the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (“OIA”), which comprises expert prosecutors and staff who will work with immigrant communities to investigate and prosecute crimes targeting them and address unique challenges faced by immigrant victims and witnesses. As part of the launch of OIA, District Attorney Sini announced that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has become a member of the New York State District Attorneys League of Immigrant Affairs (“NYS DALIA”), a consortium of immigrant affairs units that operate within District Attorney’s offices in New York State.
“All residents of Suffolk County are entitled to have their safety and rights protected,” District Attorney Sini said. “Unfortunately, all too often, members of immigrant communities are apprehensive to come forward when they have been victimized or witnessed a crime. As a result, such communities and individuals are particularly vulnerable to an assortment of criminal activity, including gang predation, human trafficking, and financial abuse. 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.”
The OIA will work with immigrants who are victimized by or have witnessed crimes to help protect them and, by extension, all Suffolk County residents. Through education and outreach, the OIA will encourage crime victims to come forward and dedicate resources to prosecuting those who victimize immigrant communities.
The OIA serves four primary roles in seeking to achieve its mission of ensuring the immigrant communities of Suffolk County have equal access to justice. First, the OIA will provide community outreach and education within immigrant communities. Second, the OIA will serve as a clearinghouse for complaints and inquiries coming from immigrant victims and advocates. Third, the OIA will provide support to all investigations and prosecutions Office-wide in dealing with immigrant victims of crime. Fourth, the OIA will serve as a resource and repository for addressing immigration-related issues experienced by crime victims.
In support of that mission, the District Attorney’s Office:
· Joined NYS DALIA, which supports the work of Immigrant Affairs liaisons and offices in many District Attorneys’ Offices.
· Is enhancing its ability to support immigrant communities by obtaining funding to hire a new Spanish-speaking victim advocate, a new full-time Spanish interpreter/translator, and Spanish-speaking paralegals.
· Is designating an Immigration Consequences Specialist within its Appeals & Training Bureau to assist Assistant District Attorneys in understanding the immigration consequences of particular crimes.
· Established an email address and hotline to facilitate the reporting and investigation of crimes targeting immigrant victims.
Complaints reported to the OIA email address and hotline concerning schemes that commonly target or exploit immigrants will be reviewed by a District Attorney’s Office supervisor assigned to the OIA who will work with prosecutors and law enforcement partners on the investigation and prosecution of crimes of this nature, including serving as a liaison with immigrant victims or their representatives. Examples of these schemes include wage theft and other labor related violations; false promises to sponsor work visas or to provide employment training for a fee; the production and purchase of false documents, including state identifications, social security cards, driver’s licenses and passports; immigration fraud, including individuals who falsely represent themselves as “attorneys,” “lawyers,” “notarios,” “immigration specialists” or “public officials” and give legal advice or promise to process immigration paperwork; and individuals who pretend to be ICE agents and purport to offer special treatment or services.
Complaints concerning other crimes, including sex crimes and other crimes of violence in which immigrants are victims, will be referred to the appropriate Bureau and law enforcement agency for investigation and prosecution. The OIA will continue to support immigrant crime victims and witnesses of all crimes, and to serve as a liaison to immigrant communities.
All members of the public seeking assistance from the OIA, seeking to set up outreach and education programs, or wishing to make a complaint can contact the Office through the following hotline number and email address:
Office of Immigrant Affairs Hotline: 631-852-2950
Office of Immigrant Affairs Email Address: ImmigrantAffairsDA@suffolkcountyny.gov
In addition, immigrant crime victims and advocates may contact the District Attorney’s Office or other law enforcement agencies using existing methods. OIA-related matters will be referred to OIA for further review and referral to the appropriate Bureau.
The Office of Immigrant Affairs is led by Executive Assistant District Attorney Leslie Anderson, with support from Deputy Bureau Chief Imran Ahmed, of the Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau.
In addition to the creation of the OIA, District Attorney Sini has also placed an emphasis on increasing diversity and inclusion within the Office. Since 2018, the Office has increased the number of Hispanic or non-White Assistant District Attorneys to 16.9%, which is an increase of 129.4% from the previous administration. Of the 120 new Assistant District Attorneys hired since 2018, 33 are non-white or Hispanic; four are self-identified members of the LGBTQ+ community; and 23 are bi- or multi-lingual.
The Office currently employs 54 bi- or multi-lingual attorneys, paralegals and support staff members who speak 21 languages other than English.
All members of the District Attorney’s Office also have access to LanguageLine Solutions, a 24/7 interpretation service that offers 240 different languages.