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DuWayne Gregory, Liuba Grechen Shirley talk student loans, Trump

DuWayne Gregory, left, and Liuba Grechen Shirley, seen

DuWayne Gregory, left, and Liuba Grechen Shirley, seen here on May 31, 2018 in Sayville are running in the Democratic primary in the Second Congressional District. Credit: James Escher

The Second Congressional District Democratic candidates held news conferences Thursday touting proposals to help millennials pay down student loans and criticizing President Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from parents.

Liuba Grechen Shirley, 37, of Amityville, and DuWayne Gregory, 49, of Copiague, are running in the June 26 Democratic primary. The winner will face Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in November.

Gregory joined business leaders and affordable housing advocates in Melville to boost a pending legislative proposal to create a program to help young people purchase homes by paying down student loan debt.

The resolution would direct Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning to examine programs initiated by other municipalities and come up with a pilot program for Suffolk.

“It’s to really help millennials buy homes. I think we all agree we need to keep young people here,” Gregory said in an interview. One program, in Maryland, refunds a portion of a home purchase for first-time buyers, which they then use to pay down student loans.

Gregory said the proposal is timed so a new program can be included in next year’s budget.

Also Thursday, Grechen Shirley and progressive activists urged the Trump administration to immediately reunite parents and their children who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order halting the controversial practice.

The administration will continue to enforce criminal prosecutions of adult migrants caught entering the United States illegally, but will stop short of separating children from their parents, as has been done since April.

Grechen Shirley and others spoke across the street from MercyFirst in Syosset, a federally approved shelter caring for eight of the 2,000 separated children.

“While MercyFirst has done incredible work for our community, it does not matter whether these children are being held in top-of-the line facilities or in tent camps. Separating children from their parents is simply wrong,” Grechen Shirley said.

Dr. Eve Krief, a pediatrician and a member of the New York Chapter 2 of The American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “highly stressful situations, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm to a child, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affecting long and short-term health, carrying lifelong consequences for these children. They will never trust anybody again.”

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