WASHINGTON — The parents of slain Brentwood teenagers Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas teared up at the State of the Union address Tuesday night as President Donald Trump highlighted their pain to call for stricter immigration laws.
Another guest, Nelson Melgar of Glen Cove, said he admires the United States for allowing him to sit in the same room as the president — but also said he had concerns about Trump’s plan for him and other Dreamers, and what he called Trump’s negative view of immigrants.
Those Long Islanders were invited to the address to stand for different sides in the immigration debate — one as a symbol of the need for tougher border security, the other as an example of why some immigrants living in the country illegally should be given legal status.
Trump looked up at Mickens’ parents, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens, and Cuevas’ parents, Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, as they sat in first lady Melania Trump’s box.
“We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain,” Trump told them as he called on Congress to close loopholes that allow criminals to enter the United States, like many of the MS-13 gang members charged with their daughters’ murders.
“To have the president acknowledge my daughter and us means a lot to me, my family, the community and America,” Mickens said after the address.
“His speech was good,” Mickens added. “I felt he spoke about the issues that he keeps on saying he wants to fix.”
At a White House meeting Tuesday, Alvarado and Mickens gave Trump a pin-on button with their daughter’s smiling image. “He said he’s definitely going to lock up these criminals. I said, ‘Thank you, keep up the good work,’ ” Mickens said.
In another part of the gallery sat Melgar, 27, who came illegally to Glen Cove from Honduras when he was 13. He worked his way through Nassau Community College and Hunter College and now is an aide to Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) invited Melgar to represent so-called Dreamers, who were brought here illegally as children. If Congress doesn’t act by March 5 to authorize the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump ordered to have expire, Melgar and others will face deportation.
“I remain disappointed with Trump’s stance on immigration and his willingness to classify all immigrants as MS-13 gang members,” Melgar said after the speech. “The immigration community is mostly law abiding. There are very few people who constitute this menacing group.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) hosted former deli owner Donato Panico, who fed sandwiches to rescue workers after the 9/11 terror attacks and now runs the nonprofit Heroes 4 Our Heroes to feed emergency responders and veterans.
With Laura Figueroa Hernandez