A troubling trend evident in even locally responsive media like The Ithaca Voice is that the news cycle revolves so quickly that excellent articles don’t always generate the potential educative public dialogue they deserve. Such is the case with the recent guest voice contribution of Shannon Gleeson about the TC Legislature’s naive dismissal of the dangers voiced by a diverse array of local residents in public comment periods at the beginning of recent regular meetings of the TC legislature concerning the new and permanent Customs and Border Patrol Facility planned for the expanding TC airport.
The charge of fear-mongering by individual legislators in response to the public’s concerns is ironic given the repeated harassment already faced by local farmworkers. Such harassment was not even mentioned as a potential red flag in any of the negotiations between airport director, Mike Hall, and New York State officials about the proposed airport expansion’s inclusion of a federal Customs and Border Control facility. Indeed, at a recent follow-up meeting at the airport, the testimony of experts on the vicious and unpredictable nature of ICE operations was met with Mr. Hall’s good-natured musing that competition between federal agencies would probably ensure lack of collaboration between a local Customs and Border Patrol Facility and ICE!
A public forum about the already-proceeding and future phases of the planned airport expansion has been requested repeatedly by local residents, including, but not limited to those of us concerned about the protection of immigrants. Indeed, the flimsy excuses offered repeatedly in the denial by both Mr. Hall and legislators of the requested forum raises questions about whose interests this expansion will actually serve, and why taxpayers should not be wondering who in fact funds the “grant” dollars we are repeatedly assured will pay for this multimillion-dollar project. Let’s make a public forum on the airport expansion project happen now before the sizeable public with legitimate concerns is silenced by these reckless charges from our elected representatives of fear-mongering.