El Salvador Consulate General Dagoberto Torres, left, receives a certificate...

El Salvador Consulate General Dagoberto Torres, left, receives a certificate from Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, center, while Islip Town Clerk Olga Murray, right, watches on at the newly developed El Salvador Consulate in Brentwood. (June 13, 2012) Credit: Steve Pfost

The El Salvador Consulate General in Brentwood has moved and expanded its facilities to meet the growing demand of people seeking services.

The only foreign consulate on Long Island, the Salvadoran facility doubled its office space after relocating to Alkier Street from Suffolk Avenue in November. Now, the staff can better address the needs of up to 300 people who come in each weekday, said Consulate General Dagoberto Torres.

Town officials and chamber of commerce leaders commemorated the move in a welcoming ceremony Wednesday. According to the 2010 U.S. census, there are about 32,000 Salvadorans in Suffolk County, and Salvadorans represent the largest Hispanic/Latino and immigrant group on Long Island.

"We are very proud in the Town of Islip to have such a diverse community," Supervisor Tom Croci said, adding the town hopes to be an effective liaison for the consulate general's office. "They have a very vibrant workforce here and a vibrant community that is part of our fabric."

Torres said the commemoration signified the town's recognition of the community's size and vitality. "The consulate's job is really to work with the people and give them the right services at the right time," he said. "We're making sure the local governments, the politicians, the congressmen . . . start to watch our community as real U.S. citizens."

But lack of civic engagement among Salvadorans is a major challenge, he said. Since many don't know how to apply for citizenship, vote, or become active in their communities, the consulate's office tries to provide educational and community resources, Torres said.

The Salvadoran Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, housed in the consulate general's office, aims to provide networking and employment opportunities and seminars for Latino business owners.

Vice president Walter Contreras said there are thousands of Salvadoran businesses on Long Island, and that it's vital the chamber, the consulate's office and the town work together.

"It's very important we have full support from our representatives, and we want to support them back," he said.

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