LI immigrants, advocates rally for better protection of border-crossing children

Empty shoes are piled in Westbury during an

Empty shoes are piled in Westbury during an immigration rights rally by Make the Road NY on July 29, 2014. The shoes are meant to symbolize the thousands of families separated by what they believe to be a broken immigration system. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Immigrants and their advocates rallied in Westbury Tuesday to call for immigration reform and urge President Barack Obama to better protect unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally.

About 40 protesters chanted and held homemade signs, some reading "Stop Deportation."

In front of them at the corner of Maple and Post avenues was a pile of shoes -- from high heels to flip-flops and baby sneakers -- intended to symbolize "missing" family and community members who have been deported.

"If you go to the desert by the border you will see shoes that have been left by people either rushing away from the police or rushing into the U.S.," said Ana Chireno, an activist with Make The Road New York, who helped organize the event.

Demonstrators called on the federal government to improve conditions for the growing number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border from Mexico to rejoin relatives in the United States.

The advocates demanded better housing, food and washing facilities for the children.

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Chireno said they should be placed in shelters run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, rather than the often-overcrowded detention centers run by the Border Patrol.

Inocencia Munoz, a 44-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in Westbury, doesn't have to worry about her children traveling to the United States unaccompanied. All five of her kids were born here.

But she does worry they could one day be separated, because Munoz is undocumented and eligible for deportation.

"It could happen at any given time," she said through a translator.

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