Who's to Blame for Marcello's Murder?

Bridging Cultures

Suffolk County has seen a rise in its Hispanic population, though Ramirez estimated only 8 to 10 percent of that is made up of illegal immigrants, the group most often targeted by legislation and ne'er do wells.

Hispanics account for 13 percent of the county population, according to 2006 Census estimates, up from 10.5 percent in 2000. In 2000, Patchogue's Hispanic population was 23.8 percent.

And the vast cultural divide does little to endear many Hispanic immigrants to their American neighbors, Rodriguez said.

Hispanics Across America tries to educate immigrants just as much as the communities they enter, he said. They tell them they can't be out on the streets, drinking and partying -- a harmless pastime in many Latin countries. They tell them they can't be blaring loud music from their apartments, something else that's the norm in their native hometowns.

"Just because some guy is urinating on my front porch doesn't give me the right to go out there and kill him," Rodriguez said. "But he shouldn't be doing that."

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a nonprofit organization that advocates for immigration reform and reduction, said the blame for immigration problems in the United States should be placed with the policymakers, not the immigrants themselves.

Though his organization believes that immigration drives economic injustice and contributes to worker displacement and overpopulation, NumbersUSA says it's not right to beat up or murder immigrants to make things change.

He called Lucero's murder a "horrific crime" and the suspected teens "opportunistic thugs," but said it's unfair to turn his murder into a political forum on immigration.

But Joselo Lucero wants his brother's murder to mean change for his community, the community he sought out after hearing about its many job opportunities.

"His death has not got to be for nothing," he said. "I want to know ... that our community is together and we are human beings."

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