How about a side of community outrage with that burger?
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer caused a kerfuffle Thursday by parking his official truck on the sidewalk in front of a public school — then crossing the street to get lunch with another officer in the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights.
The first officer left his marked immigration enforcement vehicle on the sidewalk directly in front of the Castle Bridge School with a dog inside, while another officer parked his marked vehicle on a street adjacent to the school and left it running, school staffers and parents said.
The two officers then decamped for a burger and a chicken pot pie, respectively, at Coogan's pub across the street from the school. Meanwhile, Mexican immigrant Juan Martinez, who operates a candy stall on the corner where the two parked, fled on foot at the sight of them, fearing a raid. Another undocumented vendor on the same block in the largely immigrant neighborhood did the same, he said.
"I didn't know what they were doing," Martinez, 45, said of the Customs and Border Protection officers. "School was getting out and everyone was scared."
The incident caught the attention of Washington Heights City Councilman Ydanis Rodriquez, who in his initial tweet about the incident incorrectly identified the officers as members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – better known as ICE.
"This is totally unacceptable. They should be out. Abolish ICE," Ydanis wrote on Twitter.
City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, responded to Rodriquez, tweeting messages in both English and Spanish.
Castle Bridge School principal Julie Zuckerman said she was alerted to the immigration vehicles at her school by a nervous parent.
She quickly tracked the agents down at Coogan's and asked them to move the truck parked in front of the school. Federal immigration agents are not permitted at public schools under city guidelines.
"I told them to move their truck because it could be seen as threatening," said Zuckerman, whose school is two-thirds Hispanic kids and 30% English language learners. "They have to go looking for parking like everybody else. Don't play on my stoop."
Zuckerman said the agents clearly weren't conducting official business when she confronted them at the pub.
The driver of the truck copped an attitude and asked her if she'd ask an NYPD vehicle to move under similar circumstances, she said.
"It's outrageous, clearly, and an abuse of power," she said.
Parents from the Castle Bridge school were rattled by seeing an immigration enforcement vehicles on the sidewalk around dismissal time. Many immigrant families have been on edge since President Trump has vowed to crack down on undocumented residents.
"It's shocking," said immigrant dad Dionicio Rodriguez, 51, of Washington Heights, whose daughter Maya, 6, attends first grade at Castle Bridge. "If you're an immigrant, you're going to be scared."
Coogan's host Quincy Lopez also voiced his displeasure at seeing immigration enforcement officers in the restaurant.
"The bastards had lunch here," he said. "ICE is another word for gestapo."