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Donald Trump to attend GOP dinner near where immigrant killed; See street closures

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Stacey Sager reports on the controversy surrounding Donald Trump's appearance on Long Island Thursday night.

Donald Trump returns to Long Island Thursday, headlining a GOP dinner in Patchogue. But there is controversy that involves violence against immigrants, and now, there is anger from the family of an Ecuadorian immigrant who was beaten and killed by a group of young high school students.

The murder of Marcelo Lucero happened not far from where Trump will be speaking, and his stance on immigration drew protesters who chanted the names of immigrants who they say were beaten back in 2008.

Immigration advocates are calling on the Republican Party in Suffolk County to show more sensitivity and cancel Trump's scheduled speech.

"This is not a reality show, this is not a freaking game," the Rev. Allan Ramirez said. "These are real people, human beings with flesh and blood."

But John Jay LaValle, the chair of the county Republican Party, argues that Trump is entitled to free speech, and he supports the frontrunner.

"Donald Trump isn't anti-immigrant, he's anti-illegal immigration," he said. "And if individuals aren't happy about that, and want to protest that, they're more than welcome to do so."

The event means protests, road closures and possible crowds, so as Republicans raise money, Suffolk County will need to spend money.

"We'll deploy many of our special commands, including K-9, aviation, emergency services," Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.


The Suffolk County Police Department is advising the public of several road closures in response to the Trump event in Patchogue.
--Railroad Avenue will be closed between Main Street and South Street as of 5 a.m. Beginning at 9 a.m., Railroad Avenue will be closed between Main Street and Sephton Street. South Street, Church Street, Sephton Street and Gerard Street will be closed as of 2 p.m.
--The municipal parking lot on the west side of South Ocean Avenue in the rear of the Emporium as well as the Long Island Railroad parking lot on Sephton Street will be closed as of 9 a.m.
--Any vehicles remaining on streets or in parking lots after the closures will be towed. Towed vehicles will be taken to the Village of Patchogue Department of Public Works Garage, located at 216 Waverly Ave. in Patchogue.
--Motorists are advised that all parking rules and restrictions will be in effect. Motorists must park legally or will risk being ticketed or towed.

The hope from both sides is that free speech won't open old wounds in a community that had finally healed.

"Because of where it's at, there's a raised level of awareness on the immigration issue," Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said. "Do I wish it wasn't in Patchogue? Absolutely. Do I wish I wasn't standing in front of all of you right now? Absolutely."

Meanwhile, after burning through millions of dollars in a mostly failed attempt to sway Republican primary voters, big-money outside groups opposing Trump have turned to a far smaller target audience: the delegates who will actually choose the presidential nominee.

Our Principles, which is devoted to keeping Trump from winning, and super PACs backing Ted Cruz and John Kasich are spending their time and money researching the complex process of delegate selection and reaching out to those party insiders. None of the groups have put up ads for Tuesday's New York primary.

Delegates are the people - typically longtime Republicans and state party activists - who will have their say at the GOP convention this summer in Cleveland if Trump does not lock up the nomination first in the remaining voting contests.

The hot pursuit of such low-profile people by outside groups is yet another unprecedented twist in a history-defying presidential primary season.

The delegate focus comes after the groups' earlier efforts turned out to be money not particularly well spent. GOP-aligned groups spent at least $218 million on presidential television and radio ads, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG. In one example, last month Our Principles put $2.3 million into ads trying to persuade Florida voters to ditch Trump, but he won the state anyway.

"At this stage, the delegate fight is the most important part of the race," said Tim Miller, a spokesman for Our Principles. "The work we're doing on it is how we get the biggest bang for our buck."

The Trump, Cruz and Kasich campaigns all pay specialists to help them with their own delegate strategy. Yet the outside groups can't resist crafting a role for themselves. By law, candidates cannot direct their helpful super PACs on how to spend money on paid communications. However, candidates and the outside groups keep a close eye on what the others are doing.

At a donor event last weekend at the Venetian casino resort in Las Vegas, pro-Cruz super PAC officials explained to a rapt audience how they are diving into data about Republican delegates. That super PAC event took place on the same floor as a Cruz campaign finance event, which delved into similar material.

Douglas Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Convention, said the organizational nature of a potential delegate fight plays into Cruz's strengths. The Texas senator has cultivated relationships with conservative leaders across the country. Now they're helping him woo delegates.

"Cruz hasn't done things in haphazard fashion," said Heye, who opposes Trump but is otherwise unaligned. "It takes a real team and the hard work of surrogates and coalitions to succeed at mastering the process in all 50 states."

New Day for America, a super PAC backing Kasich, is "executing a delegate outreach strategy," said spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp. She declined to give details.
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politics2016 electionpoliticspresidential racenew york voteslong island news
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