Huntington Synagogue Declares Itself Sanctuary for Hispanics

Renée Bradley is the director of the Huntington Rapid Response Network and Juan Carlos Ruiz is co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC. (Photo via Noticia Long Island)

Sergio Pineda is a Central American immigrant who was brave enough to talk about his reasons for crossing the border into the United States.

He told his story to a group of people and professionals who responded to the Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate’s call to go to Temple Beth El of Huntington to learn more about the issues that immigrants are currently facing and to demonstrate together that “hate has no home on Long Island.”

Pineda said that he chose to come to this country because of serious problems he was having back home and that he felt relieved when he arrived here. However, he pointed out that things have changed and that he feels he is in danger for not having legal status in this country.

“I know that most of you are here to learn about our situation and to help us,” said Pineda to the engaged audience, adding that he does not understand why a human being who causes no harm would be undeserving of living anywhere in the world.

Central American-born Sergio Pineda spoke about the fear of living as an immigrant on Long Island.

“Unfortunately, many people are suffering from stress: Mothers who can’t sleep and children who are worried that their parents will be deported,” said Pineda. He illustrated the climate of harassment he perceives by asking why adults are unable to be like his son who makes friends with other children in five minutes regardless of their skin color when they go to the laundromat together.

Still, Pineda is not alone. He is receiving legal counsel from the Huntington Rapid Response Network. “Our purpose is to keep families together. We support undocumented immigrants and try to locate the best possible services for them,” said Director Renée Bradley.

The network’s mission is to provide legal assistance and translation services to immigrants who have been arrested or face a deportation process. “After they are deported, we continue to represent them and try to find a way to bring them back here,” said Bradley.

The organization helps families in New York, but also in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and it has built vital legal alliances with the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC and the American Civil Liberties Union. At the moment, the network is working with the latter to try to reach the parents of children who have been arrested and deported.

“We are worried about the relationship that exists right now on Long Island between the police and ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, and that is why we are calling local leaders to pay attention to this problem,” she stressed.

Leaders such as the administration of the Temple Beth El of Huntington heeded the call, and the synagogue declared itself an immigrant sanctuary on May 24. “We Jews have also been the target of much persecution. We cannot forget that and forget our past and fail to help so many immigrants who are being persecuted today,” said Nanci Weber, a board trustee of the temple.

25 Sanctuaries in New York

Juan Carlos Ruiz, co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, pointed out the importance of protecting immigrants who have received deportation orders now more than ever, when the country is under an administration that has reignited hatred.

“That hatred has given way to many abuses, and we must work together to put a stop to it,” said Ruiz.

According to the organizer, the Coalition has counted 25 sanctuaries in New York – all churches or temples of different religions – and 300 across the country.

“It is good to know that now Long Island’s immigrants have a sanctuary where people in danger may take shelter and get help,” said Ruiz, insisting that they have received many cases referred from Long Island, the site of 42 percent of all deportation cases in New York state since the Trump administration took office.

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