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Yesterday, amidst horror over yet another hate crime in Long Island, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a new report entitled,”Climate of Fear: Latino Immigrants in Suffolk County, N.Y.”
In “Southern Poverty Law Center Report Tells What Latinos in Suffolk County Know and Live,” Maegan of Vivir Latino writes:
…off the Long Island Expressway, those with Spanish last names live in fear of losing their lives.
The report– and the reality it highlights– is disturbing, to say the least.
NBC Nightly News covers it, noting that hate crimes against Hispanics rose 40% between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics– that this is not an isolated occurence in Long Island. In this video clip, every Latino man who is being interviewed has been the victim of discrimination.
Newsday highlights the role of anti-immigrant local politics and politicians behind this disturbing trend of violence in Long Island. They report:
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.”
In “Hate report shines spotlight on Suffolk’s Levy,” Newsday’s Dan Janison reports on the potential political consequences for Levy:
Given a national Internet and media audience, the new SPLC report reinforces familiar criticisms of Levy, from foes and even some fans, that he can be tone-deaf or worse.
Politically, this report might pose no threat to him in Suffolk. It does mean more people outside the county will hear Levy’s name, in a negative light, for the first time.
And politically, it is a flip side to the praise that Levy has won in nationally broadcast commentaries calling for crackdowns on illegal immigration.
Indeed, Levy is the subject of an entire section of the SPLC webpage announcing the report, entitled, “The Enabler.”
Here are all of the resources that the Southern Poverty Law Center has released– together, they paint an explosive picture of a community in flux, of racial tensions that must be managed and counterbalanced by a rational discussion about immigration. The consequences of not doing so, as we’ve seen so concretely with the murder of Marcelo Lucero in Suffolk County, are enormous:
Latinos in Suffolk County
Climate of Fear
Law enforcement officials and politicians contribute to atmosphere of hate
Fueling the Fire
Sachem Quality of Life helped poison local attitudes toward immigrants
Voices from the Shadows
Latino immigrants speak out about their lives
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is no friend of immigrants
A decade of race violence in Suffolk County
Download the report (PDF)
Long Island Wins has a roundup of the ongoing media coverage: