The parents of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, two Brentwood teenagers who prosecutors said were killed last year by MS-13 gang members, met privately with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his visit to Long Island on Friday.
Calling the meeting “part of the healing process to get our happiness back,” Nisa’s father, Robert Mickens, said the attorney general hugged the mothers of the girls, shook hands with the fathers, and offered his condolences during the meeting in the U.S. attorney’s office at the federal courthouse in Central Islip.
Sessions, who in an earlier meeting with law enforcement officials pledged to “demolish” MS-13 — the violent street gang authorities have blamed for a spate of recent killings on Long Island — said he had discussed the murders directly with President Donald Trump.
For the families, attention from the nation’s top law enforcement official was comforting.
“It seems like somebody’s doing something; somebody’s listening,” said Elizabeth Alvarado, Cuevas’ mother, who said she appreciated the attorney general’s visit. “We’re not just fighting this battle by ourselves.”
Mickens, 15, and Cuevas, 16, were high school friends whose badly beaten bodies were found on Sept. 13 and 14 in Brentwood. More than half a dozen MS-13 members were charged in the killings and that of Jose Peña-Hernandez, 18.
But the families of two other youth presumed killed by MS-13 — including one of four young men found murdered in a Central Islip park earlier this month — said they wished they had been invited.
Marcelo Llivicura, the father of Justin Llivicura, 16, one of the four young men found dead April 12 in the Central Islip park — the heinous killings that sparked Sessions’ visit — said he attended a demonstration outside the courthouse as a way to seek justice for his son. He said he would have told Sessions to provide more protection and security for Long Island communities being targeted by gangs.
Llivicura, an Ecuadorean immigrant who lives in Patchogue, called Sessions “anti-immigrant” and said he unfairly conflated hardworking newcomers to this country with those who committed crimes.
“We’re good people,” he said. “I’ve lived for years in this country and never hurt anyone. I don’t have a criminal record. I work to support my family.”
John Marzulli, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, declined to say how families were chosen to meet with Sessions.
“The office offers its sincere condolences to all of the families for their terrible losses and the sadness they still feel,” Marzulli said.
The families that met with Sessions said they didn’t discuss illegal immigration — only ways to stop gang warfare and how to improve the lives of young people.
Evelyn Rodriguez, the mother of Cuevas, said she asked Sessions for more federal funding for schools and community programming.
“As parents that lost their loves ones, we just want to see positive change for our community and our school district,” she said.
Sabrina Mayes, who said her son Derrick was the victim of gang violence in Central Islip in 2013, stood outside the courthouse wearing a T-shirt with a photo of her son and carrying his ashes in a locket on her necklace.
“We should have been there too,” Mayes said. “If they had done something in the first place, maybe them girls would still be here, maybe those four boys . . . would be still here if they had done something in 2013. Now it got out of control.”
With Víctor Manuel Ramos