A Long Road Ahead for Immigrants on Long Island

Marcelo Lucero

As we approach the sixth anniversary of the murder of Marcelo Lucero on Nov. 9, it’s important to acknowledge that, for all the positive change that has taken place since that time, there is still much more to do.

The hate crime murder of Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, brought to light the need for change in the way elected officials and native-born Long Islanders portray, understand, and treat undocumented Americans and their role in our community.

In the six years that have passed since then, there has been change. Many organizations, including Long Island Wins, have worked closely with Suffolk County government to help make the county more welcoming to new Americans. In addition, the Suffolk County Police Department has begun the long road of revising its policies and procedures to better address the needs of the immigrant communities they are sworn to protect and serve. Meanwhile, in the Village of Patchogue, local government, the business community, and the community at large are now working together in uplifting its immigrant community and its successes.

Joselo Lucero, brother of Marcelo, said many other positive changes have taken place on Long Island at large. “Language access is something positive for the [immigrant] community,” he said. “But also the community in general, some of them are being educated more about being involved in civic engagement, getting involved in education system.”

But these things are not enough, he insisted. Nowhere is this more apparent than with reactions and treatment of the 2,600 newly arrived Central American children on Long Island, who have faced community backlash against attempts to help them and illegal barriers to school enrollment.

Immigrants on Long Island and the U.S. at large come here to work hard, to improve their lives, and the achieve the American Dream that brought our ancestors here decades, generations, or even centuries ago. Immigrant families on Long Island share the same core values as all Long Islanders. Likewise, the desires and ambitions of the newly arrived children are not unlike those of our own children—to have fun, to be with family, and to have hope for their own future.

This Sunday, the annual Vigil in Memory of Marcelo Lucero will be held at Iglesia Evangelica Refugio de Salvacion from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.