En EspaƱol Know Your Rights
Source: Long Island Report
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Brentwood voters press immigration issues in District Four state senate race

The town-hall-style debate was led by questions from local organizational leaders but one question on the candidates’ position on the DREAM Act, a proposed bill that would provide residency to undocumented residents who graduated from a U.S. high school, was asked by none other than Samalia, a Central Islip thirteen-year-old junior high school student.

“It’s important to me because some of my friends don’t have papers. It’s important for them in school and education. Their dream is to go to college and study for their career.”

The conversation may be at a local level, but the dialogue is echoing across communities nation-wide.

In the Brentwood Public Library Wednesday evening, local questions posed to District Four State Senate candidates, Assemblyman Phil Boyle and County Legislator Ricardo Montano, demonstrate how one national issue plays out. Of the 13 questions asked, three dealt with immigration, a central issue to Long Island voters that may be a precursor to the Presidential debate and election.

Immigration issues in a local State Senate race may be just an opening act for the Presidential Debate to play out next week.

“We’ve got to deal with comprehensive immigration reform. We can’t just let this drag on and drag on,” acknowledged State Senate candidate and County Legislator Ricardo Montano.

While the two candidates mostly maintained similar positions on immigration, both condemn the controversial Secure Communities deportation program and advocate for minorities as business owners. They differ on their positions on the DREAM Act; Boyle disagrees with certain provisions of the legislation.

“Some of the issues that we talked about tonight resonate both in terms of state and federal issues. So, for instance, the DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that is federal and there is also a New York counterpart,” said Daniel Altschuler, Community Organizer for Make the Road New York, a membership-led grassroots immigrant rights organization based in Brentwood.

Voters are looking for comprehensive immigration reform, whatever level of government it may stem from. And like many, Guatemalan-born voter Obdulio De León, 38, says he is simply fed up.

“Yeah, I would like to see changes. I think what is going on is just to get a vote but I would like to see real reform, real change.”

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