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'Hunting Season': the story of immigration and death in small-town America




An undated photo of Marcelo Lucero
An undated photo of Marcelo Lucero
Marcelo Lucero's family

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Just over an hour's drive east from New York City sits the little town of Patchogue.

Fewer than 12,000 people call Patchogue home, but actually almost a fourth of those residents call it their adoptive home: like other neighboring towns, immigration transformed the once mostly white population into one with a growing Latino presence. 

It was in the midst of that rise that 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero died five years ago on this day.

He was targeted by a group of teens who regularly went out at night essentially to hunt for Hispanics to attack.

But apparently Lucero fought back and was fatally stabbed.

Of those teens, 17-year-old Jeff Conroy was sentenced to 25 years for manslaughter, and four of the other teens he was with were also sentenced to six to seven years for their role.

This was by no means an isolated case. That same year, nearly two-thirds of the ethnically motivated attacks in the country were committed against Latinos.

What happened in Patchogue is the complex story of a changing America and how the national rhetoric on immigration reform distilled into a dangerous poison on the streets of this small town.

Mirta Ojito tells this story in her new book, "Hunting Season." 

Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town by Mirta Ojito, Prologue by Beacon Press