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Cristina Jimenez

Suffolk County: Ten Years of Violence Against Immigrants

Suffolk County, an epicenter of anti-immigrant sentiment, where an Ecuadorian immigrant was brutally murdered by seven teenagers ten months ago, made news again last week. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued a new report revealing that Latino immigrants in Suffolk County have been routinely victims of harassment and violent attacks since the late 1990s.

The report, Climate of Fear: Latino Immigrants in Suffolk County, NY, states that violence and hate against Latinos is driven by an "anti-immigrant environment fostered by some community leaders." One of the leaders the report highlights is the County executive, Steve Levy. The report says:

County Executive Steve Levy isn't the only public official engaging in the verbal immigrant-bashing, or the most extreme. But he is the highest-ranking, and since he was elected to his first term in November 2003 after promising a crackdown on illegal immigrants, Levy has been acting like the enabler-in-chief.

Patrick Young, Long Island Wins bloogger, takes a closer look at Levy's role in this post.

The report is based on more than 70 interviews with Latino immigrants, small business owners, faith leaders and activists. Many immigrants told the center's researches that the "police did not take their reports of attacks seriously, often blaming the victim."

In addition to highlighting the problem, the report offers recommendations as well:

Local politicians should halt their angry demagoguery on the issue of immigration and law enforcement officials should train officers to ensure that they take seriously cases of hate-motivated crime.

The stories documented and revealed by this report are another reminder that Long Island leaders need to drop the anti-immigrant rhetoric and encourage a real and rational immigration debate.

Cristina Jimenez: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 2:00 PM, Sep 08, 2009 in Immigration
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