Ecuadorean Officials Offer Condolences to Denice’s Family
By Kevin Rudden Staff Reporter/Columnist · September 26, 2011
People gathered outside Town Hall to protest illegal immigration before Ecuadorean diplomats met with the Board of Selectmen.
The family of Matthew Denice – killed on August 20 by an alleged drunk driver in this country illegally from Ecuador – received condolences from two representatives of the Ecuadorean government who came to Milford on September 7 to discuss immigration issues with the Board of Selectmen.
Beatriz Almeida Stein, Consul Ad-Honorem in Boston, and Pablo Calle, a New York-based official with Ecuador's National Department for Migrant Affairs, both spoke quietly to Denice's brother, mother, and stepfather before sitting down at a table in Upper Town Hall. Publicly, Stein said that as a mother and grandmother, she understood the family's loss. "I wish this meeting was under different circumstances," added Calle.
Prior to the meeting, a crowd in front of Town Hall estimated at 200 by Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin protested against illegal immigration in a driving rainstorm, with drivers passing by honking their car's horns in approval. After the crowd moved inside and overflowed the selectmen's downstairs meeting room, Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis agreed to move it upstairs. More than two-dozen police officers guarded the outside and inside of Town Hall during the protest and the meeting. O'Loughlin refused to say exactly how many officers were on duty, calling it "a sufficient number."
Surrounded by radio and television reporters from Boston, DeBartolomeis opened the meeting by noting that Stein had contacted him the previous week to discuss what the Ecuadorean government could do to help Milford deal with illegal immigration. "Milford is made up of a lot of nationalities and ethnicities. We're a very proud and close community," he said. "This has been a very trying and difficult situation the past two weeks and we feel for the individuals," he added.
"We have a problem with illegal immigrants," DeBartolomeis continued. "It's put a strain on the community, the hospital, the housing, the schools and the country and we cannot tolerate it any longer," he said. But, he added, "Everything's not going to be corrected tomorrow, next week, in a few weeks." And, he urged the audience, "Let's conduct ourselves as good people, with courtesy to the government of Ecuador."
Family Members Address Diplomats
Family members of two Milford residents killed by illegal immigrants addressed Beatriz Almeida Stein, Consul Ad-Honorem in Boston, and Pablo Calle, a New York-based official with Ecuador's National Department for Migrant Affairs, at the September 7 Board of Selectmen meeting.
"I just want to say as a community we welcome immigration. Those who come here correctly go through the process with the proper documents, we welcome," commented Michael Denice, brother of Matthew Denice. Continuing, he stated: "My question to you is, those who are here illegally, what is your solution to that? They come here illegally. They cannot work because they don't have documents, so they work for cash under the table to survive. They cannot drive, so they drive without licenses. They cannot get houses, so they provide false information to get housing. Once someone is here illegally, they have to do illegal things to stay in our community, whether it is working for cash under the table or driving without a license, whether it is collecting state services under false information. What is you solution to those illegal immigrants who are here today?"
"If he was my neighbor, I would be upset as well," Calle commented. When people see their community changing, "the easiest answer is to respond with hate," he added. "We can work this out. I don't want to lose hope," the diplomat added.
The United States has been debating immigration policies for the past 15 years and "unfortunately, now we see states taking the issue into their own hands," Calle said. He said he hopes Congress resolves the issues "sooner than later."
Maureen Grossi Laquerre told both diplomats her brother was killed by an unlicensed driver who was deported before coming to trial. Illegal immigrants "have no respect for our laws," she said. Referring to her brother, she said, "He was the first death in Milford. Matthew was the third and hope he was the last."
We have tremendous pain," Selectmen Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis said. "We will work with the right people to make Milford a better community." To the two diplomats, he said, "This situation cannot be tolerated any longer. It has to be corrected and we need your help to do that."