LI Anti-Trump Protesters: ‘No More Hate, No More Fear’

Silvia García, an immigrant Argentinean, during a protest against President Trump’s visit to Long Island on Wednesday. (Photo via El Diario)

“I am here to say that we are tired of the hatred, the discrimination and all he is doing against our community,” said Silvia García, an Argentinean immigrant who took to the street on Wednesday alongside some 50 others to protest President Donald Trump’s visit to Long Island.

This is the second time the leader met with elected officials in this area of New York in an effort to draw attention to the wave of deaths linked to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang there and as part of his policy to apply immigration laws more strictly.

At a roundtable held in the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, Trump discussed the impact of the gang’s activities with the area’s Republican representatives Peter King and Lee Zeldin, the Suffolk and Nassau police commissioners and relatives of victims of MS-13.

Still, Silvia, a member of Make the Road New York, the organization that coordinated the protest, said that instead of helping find a solution to violence, Trump’s presence on Long Island only increases prejudice against the immigrant community in the area.

“We want to be respected and for them to stop making generalizations about our community,” said Silvia, who has lived in Brentwood for 17 years. The Suffolk County town’s population includes a high percentage of Latinos. It has also seen a spike in MS-13-related violent crimes in the last few months.

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During his visit, the president once again referred to MS-13 gang members as “animals,” despite the criticism his comment has generated.

Silvia is the undocumented mother of a 17-year-old son who is a DACA beneficiary. She condemned the president’s decision to eliminate the immigration benefit, saying that it only benefits criminal groups trying to recruit youths: “Eliminating opportunities for undocumented youths is akin to supporting the gangs.”

“So many young people who have been able to envision a future thanks to DACA may end up empty-handed in the blink of an eye,” she said. “Trump needs to think that our kids need more opportunities, not fewer.”

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“Trump’s visit to Nassau County is part of his racist, anti-immigrant agenda to promote his dehumanizing and criminalizing rhetoric against immigrant youths,” said Walter Barrientos, organizing director of Make the Road New York on Long Island.

“From the beginning of the Trump presidency, we have seen how he has worked to follow up on his narrative regarding immigrant youths and gangs, seeking to divide our communities and move forward with his massive deportation plan. However, on Long Island he will not divide us,” he said.

A Trump supporter who claimed her husband deserved to be deported. (Photo via El Diario)

Across the street, a group of Trump supporters raised U.S. flags and welcomed the president.

“My husband was deported two years ago under the Obama presidency, and I think he deserved it,” said one woman in the group who chose to remain anonymous. She carried a sign that read: “Homeless American,” “3 kids!” and “Trump supporter.”

“I am sure that some people do not deserve to be deported, but many others do,” she added. “Many men hit their wives, hit their children, but we don’t hear those stories.”

In her view, President Trump’s visit to Long Island is a positive step to improve security. “I am afraid for my children in school and even for my own safety. We should not have to feel fear.”

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“Center of a movement of hate”

Rahsmia Zatar, director of S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth. (Photo via Noticia Long Island)

[Below are excerpts from another story by Noticia Long Island’s Sandra Torres.]

The demonstration against Trump’s visit was led by local organizations Make the Road New York, Carecen, S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, LatinoJustice and the New York Civil Liberties Union, among others.

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“I have worked at S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth for 18 years and currently serve as the organization’s director. I know the issue very well and what we are all dealing with here on Long Island with this gang problem,” said Rahsmia Zatar. “I don’t think that President Trump really wants to find solutions to this. All he is doing is creating fear among residents in general.”

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Long Island has become “the center of a movement of hate. We can’t talk about gangs and immigrants in the same sentence or put them in the same category,” stressed Susan Gottehrer, director of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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