Eliana Fernandez, originally of Gualaceo in Ecuador, stood among about a dozen immigration advocates from across Long Island who have descended on the village this week to protest Thursday’s arrival of presidential candidate Donald Trump.
She spoke of moving to the village 14 years ago — many of those years spent living here without documentation — as she and the others gathered outside The Emporium music club on Railroad Avenue, where Trump is expected to speak at a Suffolk County Republican Committee fundraiser.
Fernandez described Patchogue as a “welcome and inclusive community.”
At least, she said, for those not using “hateful rhetoric.”
“Trump’s hateful rhetoric is not welcome here,” she said. “My children are growing up here. I want to make sure they have a place where they are respected and treated with dignity.
“So I’m making this personal: Trump, we don’t want you in our community.”
Fernandez and the others, representing groups like the Progressive Coalition and Long Island Immigrant Alliance, said it’s blanket statements about immigrants from Mexico and South America like some Trump has made on the campaign trail that led to the brutal stabbing death of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero at the hands of impressionable young people.
Lucero, also from Gualaceo, was killed by seven teenagers who drove down to the village specifically to assault immigrants in 2008.
Luis Valenzuela of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance said Trump’s statements on immigration give license to people to make derogatory remarks about immigrants, which can then lead to “vulnerable people going out and hunting Latinos again.”
“We can’t tolerate that,” Valenzuela said. “There are good people here in Patchogue. There are good people here on Long Island. We’ve been through this before; we don’t want it to happen again.”
For his part, Suffolk Republican Committee chairman John Jay LaValle issued a statement earlier this week explaining The Emporium was chosen for the group’s fundraiser over two months ago.
Trump only confirmed that he would be attending the event last week, he said.
“And while we offer the greatest empathy possible to the family of Marcelo Lucero, who was brutally murdered by a group of teens in 2008, we can’t help but to be suspicious of the motives of those leading the charge to connect that vicious hate crime with Mr. Trump’s commitment to enforcement of immigration laws that have gone largely ignored by both parties, for 30 years,” LaValle added.
“Neither Mr. Trump, nor the Suffolk County Republican Committee’s more than 1,000 members, many of whom are Church-going upstanding members of the community, would ever condone a hate crime.“
Valenzuela called on Republicans who might be turned off by Trump’s comments to join the protesters in speaking out against the party’s frontrunner for the presidential nomination.
“Silence is betrayal, as Martin Luther King said,” Valenzuela said. “So to be silent when someone is spewing hatred, saying Mexicans are coming to rape people and sell drugs. And that we should build walls so that we can ban other brown people, and Muslims … To be silent is to betray what America stands for.”
Trump’s exact words (or watch):
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringingbringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably from the Middle East.
But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”