The New York Civil Liberties Union has expressed concerns to the NYPD about its arrest of immigrant day laborers in Queens on February 1. In a letter to Commissioner Ray Kelly, the NYCLU took note of the apparent discrimination involved in the arrests. Police arrested 18 day laborers in the vicinity of 43rd Street and Broadway, charging them with obstructing pedestrian or vehicular traffic while engaging with potential employers who drove up in cars.

“The NYCLU is concerned that immigrants who are engaged in lawful pursuit of gainful employment may be subject to arrest that might expose them to serious immigration consequences,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU.

The 18 day laborers had gathered in the vicinity to make themselves available for work when policed swept in and arrested them. Eyewitnesses say even laborers who were across the street from the main group were summoned by officers and arrested. Even though vehicles of prospective employers were blocking the roadway, it appears only the laborers were arrested.

The NYPD action appears to have unfairly targeted immigrant groups who were part of a sweep in response to community complaints.

Said Christopher Dunn, Associate Legal Director of the NYCLU: “The NYCLU would be interested in working with appropriate NYPD officials to discuss community concerns without violating the civil rights of day laborers.”

Click here to read the NYCLU's letter.