A human rights advocacy group marched Sunday in Brentwood and called on President Barack Obama to exempt more immigrants in the United States illegally from being deported until wider reforms are adopted.
More than 800 people gathered at Brentwood High School as part of the annual assembly of the nonprofit Make the Road New York. The group unveiled its priorities for next year and demonstrated for relief from deportations, imploring Obama to use his executive powers to aid their cause.
"We have struggled mightily together, we have taken action continuously and we have won many victories," said Teresa Farfan, 65, of Central Islip, through a translator.
"Now it is important that we come together as immigrant and Latino communities before the November elections to show our strength and unity again," said Farfan, who immigrated to the United States from Ecuador 16 years ago.
Victor and Elsa Lemos of Hempstead said they came to the United States nearly five years ago, leaving their two sons with an aunt in Guatemala. About two years ago, Victor Lemos said through a translator, gangs started trying to recruit their sons, leading to threats. He and his wife, Elsa, 32, started saving money so they could get their sons to Long Island.
On Sunday, the entire family sat together at a table at the high school. Their son Brayan Lemos, 11, flew into New York City on Sept. 23, reuniting with his mother, father and new baby brother, the family said.
On Oct. 9, Nelson Lemos, 13, also arrived in New York, where he said through a translator that he saw his father first and gave him a long, tight hug. Victor Lemos, 34, said after the assembly that they were surrounded by people fighting for immigration rights.
"We are united. . . . There is hope," he said.
Make the Road New York has four sites in New York City and one on Long Island in Brentwood.
After the assembly, hundreds left the high school and marched.
In Spanish, some said, "Obama, listen, we're in the struggle." In English, they also yelled "Obama, Obama, don't deport my mama."