One New Paltz man picked up by ICE out on bail, another still in custody

Matthew Rojas

Matthew Rojas, a local performer who was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)agents on his way to a court appearance in New Paltz on November 25, was released on bail February 1. Rojas’ apprehension caused an uproar, not only among friends and supporters, but New Paltz Town Board members who had passed a law declaring New Paltz a sanctuary for undocumented residents. Rojas is a member of a group which is central to the immigration debate in recent years; namely those brought illegally into this country when they were children. While some believe that their inability to come here of their own free will should be enough to give them leeway and perhaps even a path to citizenship, others advocate for deportation to send a strong message that American immigration laws will be enforced in all cases.

According to friend Kevin Halcott, Rojas was granted a $7,500 bail request submitted by an attorney paid for largely through community donations. After a belated family Christmas celebration and reunion with local friends, Halcott said that Rojas is going to focus on rectifying his legal status.

Luis Martinez

Martinez gets support

Luis Martinez, the local business owner picked up by ICE agents when he arrived at his office last month, is also getting support from public officials and private citizens. Town and village board members passed a resolution in support of his release at their February 7 joint meeting, and Deputy Supervisor Dan Torres said that letters supporting the same may be dropped off at Town Hall in his mailbox. It’s not yet clear how to direct those, and Torres recommends addressing them “to whom it may concern.”

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There are 7 comments

  1. No ICE NPZ

    God Bless this man, This should be a strong message that i.c.e. is Not Welcome in New Paltz.

    Luis Martinez is part of our community, New Paltz is a welcome place for all immigrants, for all people.

    Remove i.c.e., Remove Trump, worst President in U.S. history is Trump.

  2. Ham Burger

    Okay, let’s have a meeting and decide what other laws we should ignore and what other oppressive armed enforcers we should disband.

  3. R. Milon

    My question is how does I.C.E. choose who to pick up? We all are descendants of immigrants to this country at one time or another, with exception of Native Americans. One complaint I hear in my store is the government funded resources that illegals have access to. When the last mass immigration during Industrial revolution took place, our government did not offer the abundance of social services it does now.
    Is it fair that they are eligible for free health care by going to hospital ER when my husband and I pay $25,000 a year in health insurance premiums? Or when they work, the majority of their cash gets sent back to their home country and not our local economies? Or that they don’t pay a lick of taxes or any other fees that we as citizens do? But is it completely their fault? I don’t believe so. They see an opportunity to work, and the first few years in this country illegals work hard (I and many other business owners see it.) But does the public understand that as a business in NYS we pay a specific line item for workers comp insurance in construction industries to cover undocumented workers now on our policies whether we employ them or not? Is it fair that companies do everything legally in employing people, but then if an illegal gets hurt no one is liable for their “work” injury and local ER picks up tab and health costs go up again?

    The majority of illegals work hard and are kind, good hearted, strong work ethic based people who want to better lives of their families and selves. As I stated, I believe illegal immigration and our social services based government are tied together. I think the illegals are an outlet of frustration many of us feel for the Social Services programs that get abused by many. We make it very easy for American citizens to become lazy and unaccountable for any government assistance they collect. This opens up blue collar positions to these illegals as businesses need employees to keep doors open. But the misconception that these illegals are cheated on pay is that in most cases. You cannot pick someone up as a day laborer in Poughkeepsie without minimum $15 / hr plus buying them breakfast and lunch. Most get $20 / hour. Ask them about becoming legal and their answer is “Why – don’t have to pay taxes and keep all money!” In a rental application for apartment we own, the family showed me savings account. Over 40,000. in it. Their daughter was going to college in fall and as child of illegal, she has no tuition costs. My daughter, with 4.0 GPA has $80K in loans with 22% interest. These are the items that need addressing, to develop understanding of why people are angry and resistant. I believe also if the whole social program is looked at and wishfully revamped, it would allow possibly a way for illegals to become citizens without red tape and be productive US citizens. That includes learning the language and speaking it, paying taxes, etc. IF they choose not to do so, not become a legal member of our society, then yes, ICE has the right to send them back home. That is the fundamental tenet to a civilized society last I checked, that you play by the rules. Otherwise chaos ensues.

  4. Slipstream

    It is complicated, and yet it is not. If our economy and society need more workers, and they are contributing more than they are taking out, then at least some of the illegals should be allowed to stay. If not, then they should be sent home. The government in Washington needs to get it together on this issue. In the meantime, our laws should be enforced, maybe not zealously, but if laws are never enforced they become meaningless, and the government must have some control over immigration. Of course there should be compassion for those who have been here a long time, and for the “dreamers” who had not choice in coming here.

    Another point: this problem is not going away anytime soon. As the world’s population continues to grow and climate change advances, particularly in impoverished parts of the world, we can count on more and more economic refugees heading our way. At what point should we aggressively enforce our laws and not offer amnesty to people that have settled in the USA and the Hudson Valley illegally?

    Thanks to R. Milon for his/her comments.

  5. Juan

    The guy is dirty. Google it. Contractors cheated workers out of $1 million in wages for work on public housing, schools, officials say
    List https://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/publicwork/pdfs/debarred.pdf
    https://patch.com/new-york/midhudsonvalley/new-paltz-contractor-pleads-guilty-wage-cheat-case
    https://www.recordonline.com/news/20160318/contractor-pleads-guilty-to-shorting-workers-800000-in-wages
    “Wage theft is a crime, one that frequently involves companies exploiting low and middle income workers for their own gain,” Schneiderman said in a statement, adding that his office “will continue to aggressively prosecute” wage and hour cases.”
    https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/contractors-cheated-workers-1-million-officials-article-1.2177727

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