To the editor:
Important components of our county’s economy involve agriculture and the various industries linked to tourism and related services. Fundamental to their success is the labor force, one that includes a notable concentration of Latino workers primarily from Mexico and Central American countries. Their labor and dedication contribute significantly to our food supply, yet many live with constant fear of entanglements with local law enforcement.
Public input is obviously an invaluable component of this reform process and should focus on those parts of our community which harbor well-founded fears of law enforcement actions. To that end, the Panel must broaden its data gathering efforts if a meaningful plan is to be forthcoming that recognizes the concerns of all sectors of county residents. A critically important segment not yet represented is the 4.6% (2,760 people) of the county’s population that’s Latino, 23% of which live in poverty (US 2020 preliminary census and NY State data). Does the reform Panel have a plan to develop a clear understanding of this population, especially in terms of strategies to identify and analyze the existing relationships with law enforcement?
Problem identification and resolution can only come by total inclusiveness of the ethnic and racial diversity within our county. The historic and social importance of this opportunity cannot be understated. Progress toward true equality can best occur when those ignored or silenced no longer are.