Immigrants, advocates rally in Brentwood for reforms

Denisse Giron, of Uniondale, left, and Marcy Suarez,

Denisse Giron, of Uniondale, left, and Marcy Suarez, right, of Brentwood, who came directly from her Brentwood High School graduation, hug after Giron signed her voter registration form during "Day of Action to Stop Separating Families" on Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Credit: Steve Pfost)

Immigrants and activists rallied Saturday in Brentwood's Ross Park to demand immigration reform.

People chanted "Remember November," referring to the 2014 midterm elections.

Marcy Suarez, 18, a member of Make the Road New York, an advocacy group, came directly from her Brentwood High School graduation.


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"We're a community who gets very little attention from politicians," she said, still toting her cap and gown. "But they're not going to make changes, if we're not out there trying to make them ourselves."

Suarez carried with her a clipboard and Board of Election registration papers, which she'll use throughout the summer as she canvasses the community, urging immigrants to register to vote.

Daniel Altschuler, a Make the Road spokesman, said the nonprofit hopes to register 2,500 people on Long Island before the November election.

The rally, which drew about 55 sign-waving people, came one year after the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would streamline visa programs and crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

But the bill has not moved past the Senate, and activists blame both House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama for failing to move it forward.

Long Island is home to about 100,000 immigrants living here illegally, Altschuler said.

Teresa Farfan, 65, a cook who lives in Central Islip, said she has been living here without legal permission since coming to the United States from Ecuador 16 years ago.

Immigration reform "would resolve the problems that a lot of people face," Farfan said through a translator -- including a growing number of unaccompanied children streaming into the country illegally.

Patrick Young, an attorney with the Hempstead-based Central American Refugee Center, said most of the children are desperate to rejoin family members already living here.

"If you're the child of a permanent resident, it could take three or four years before you're able to reunite with your parents here in the United States," he said.

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