Southern Poverty Law Center Says Suffolk County Executive Fuels Hatred

Corky Siemaszko, New York Daily News, September 2, 2009

Suffolk County’s chief executive has been branded the “enabler in chief” of anti-immigrant violence by a civil rights group in a report out today.

The Southern Poverty Law Center charges that County Executive Steve Levy has engaged in “verbal immigrant-bashing” since taking office in 2003 and fueled hatred by proposing county cops “be empowered to detain Latinos solely on suspicion of being undocumented immigrants.”

Levy also supervised raids on 11 homes in Farmingville that resulted in the eviction of 200 day laborers and their families, the group says.

When immigrant rights advocates protested the raids, Levy derided the activists as members of a “lunatic fringe.”

Levy also dismissed as “Communists” and “anarchists” critics of Mayors and Executives for Immigration Reform–a group he co-founded that “promotes immigrant-cleansing ordinances,” according to the center’s report.

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Levy–whose paternal grandfather was a Jewish immigrant from France and whose maternal grandparents were Catholics from Sicily–did not address the Law Center’s charges directly.

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After the Lucero slaying, Levy insisted there was no connection to his policies, saying it was not a “question of any county policy or legislation,” but “a question of bad people doing horrific things.”

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