A new report entitled “Climate of Fear,” released this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has exposed something ugly lying just beneath the surface of American politics and American life. The report highlights how Latino immigrants in Suffolk County, have become frequent victims of violence and racial intimidation– in large part due to an explosive, sustained anti-immigrant politics in the area.
Ted Hesson of Long Island Wins caught up with local immigrant advocates and some of the people involved with creating the report after the press conference, and asked them what they thought about the findings. Watch all of their responses on where the county should go over at Ted’s blog.
Here is one, from Henry Fernandez, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a contributing editor for the report:
In New York, some are calling for the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) to intervene. Check out a recent Editorial in La Opinion, “Justice Department must intervene in Suffolk,” which lays much of the blame for this “climate of fear” at the feet of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.
Under the leadership of Steve Levy, Suffolk County has failed to take urgent steps to protect immigrants living in constant fear of violence. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) must act aggressively to end a cycle of vicious, hate-fueled beatings of Latino immigrants.
[…] Last year, Marcelo Lucero was murdered by one of a gang of young thugs who encircled him. Just a little over two weeks ago, yet another Latino immigrant was brutally beaten in an alleged act of hate.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has done little to discourage nativist intolerance or prevent hate attacks. In fact, he has thrown coals into the fire. Levy was defensive after Lucero’s death, in denial of how his own actions have cultivated an atmosphere of hate. Before that, he once encouraged racial profiling by police. And instead of listening to long expressed concerns about hate crimes, Levy has been regularly combative with immigrant rights’ advocates and ridiculed them as the lunatic fringe.