Schumer's immigration plan supporters turned away

Mayah Oliveira, 4, holds her sign at the Mayah Oliveira, 4, holds her sign at the rally outside Sen. Charles Schumer's office in Melville. (Jan. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

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Dozens of immigrants and advocates who rallied Tuesday in support of Sen. Charles Schumer's immigration reform efforts attempted to deliver hundreds of petitions to his Long Island office but were not allowed inside.

Security concerns kept the group outside of the Melville office, a spokesman for Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. But rally organizer Osman Canales of the Long Island Immigrant Students Advocates said the office of an elected official should be more welcoming.

"I'm upset because we are members from the community," said Canales, of Huntington Station. "He [Schumer] represents New York . . . and it's upsetting because, as a public office, they should at least open the door and accept the petitions."

Maya Oliveira, 4, was to deliver the signed cards calling for "just and humane immigration reform" but was turned away by a man who identified himself only as the building manager and asked the group to leave. Advocates left the cards at the locked door.

Max Young, the Schumer spokesman, said in a statement that the office received the petitions. He said staff members did not meet with the advocates because the visit was unscheduled.

"Our security protocol is that we don't accept documents, without an appointment, from large groups, but we're glad that these activists came . . . to express their views," Young said. Staff members will meet with the group "very soon," he added.

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Canales said he had left Schumer's office a message notifying it about the rally.

"Senator Schumer agrees that we need comprehensive immigration reform and is working to pass legislation that includes a path to citizenship, and is tough on illegal immigration," Young said.

Rally participants included Latino and Haitian immigrants, domestic violence victims, young undocumented students and activists. They stood outside the office complex for more than an hour. One referenced President Barack Obama's election night speech: "We believe in a generous, . . . tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who struggles in our schools and pledges to our flag."

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"Senator Schumer is an important piece of the puzzle for us because he has always had the topic of comprehensive immigration reform on the table," Saúl Linares, a day-laborer activist in Hempstead, said in Spanish. "We are not protesting against him, but we are just sending a message saying that we are with him, that he's not alone on this issue."

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