Immigration reform supporters rallied in Southampton on Sunday and have urged Congress to enact comprehensive legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants living in the United States to be able to get on a path to citizenship. The East End Immigrants Advocates group, says that it wants to draw attention to immigrant communities in the East End, many of whom are relied on for their services by the owners of second homes, but who are politically ignored.
The East End’s immigrant communities face unique challenges, according to supporters and the immigrants themselves. “You do feel sometimes you’re not wanted,” says Benny Torres from Hampton Bays, who is a former town Democratic leader. “They want us to mow the lawns and paint houses, but they don’t want us to live here.”
Forty-one-year-old Miguel Amaya of Shirley, who is a worker at a tree and landscaping service that operates in Southampton, says reform is desperately needed. Amaya came to the United States 20 years ago from El Salvador and notes that being an undocumented immigrant is not easy, with some people deliberately going out of their way to make life difficult.
There were four protestors objecting to the immigration rally, while immigrant rights activist Osman Canales, who is based in Huntingdon, says that many Hispanic parents in the East End are too frightened to come forward. The large immigrant population of eastern Long Island is often overlooked, according to the East End Immigrants Advocates leader Fernando Aviles.