BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dreamers and those who have a temporary immigration status held a rally in Brentwood, Long Island Wednesday, a day after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, gang violence has taken its toll on many Brentwood residents. The community is also home to some Dreamers — people who brought to the United States illegally as children – as well as people with temporary protected status.
One woman took issue with Trump’s mention during the State of the Union address of two teenage girls from Brentwood, Long Island — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — who were murdered by alleged gang members using machetes and baseball bats in September 2016.
“Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied alien minors — and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school,” Trump said.
The woman said Trump was misusing the tragedy.
“My sister is in high school right now. She is 16 years old. She went to school with the two young ladies who were killed a couple of years ago,” one woman said. “Stop using our tragedies to advance your immigration policies, Trump. This is not fair. This is not our community.
Hall also talked to one young lady who came to the U.S. from Peru when she was 6 years old.
“I felt very marginalized,” she said. “He has plans that he says will work. He said citizenship in 12 years. A lot of things can happen in 12 years,” she said. “He doesn’t realize that immigrants – we just can’t wait that long. We’ve been waiting for immigration reform for a very long time.”
In his address Tuesday night, Trump outlined an immigration reform plan with “four pillars,” in which “nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.”
The plan offers a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers, which Trump said covers “almost three times more people than the previous administration.”
“Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States,” Trump said.
But in exchange, the other “pillars” represented a hard line on immigration across the board. Trump said the second “pillar” was a call to “fully secure” the border, and hiring more border patrol agents to “keep communities safe.”
The third pillar called for an end to the visa lottery, which Trump called “a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people.”
“It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country,” Trump said.
The fourth pillar, Trump said, called for an end to what the White House has called “chain migration.”
“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family, by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.”