Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

Suffolk Executive Steve Levy, who’s attracted national attention as tough on illegal immigration, said today he still wants to examine Arizona’s controversial new law mandating alien registration papers to be carried at all times and allowing lawsuits against localities that fail to properly police.
So far, he has said he would oppose the measure if in fact it authorizes random searches, and tomorrow will state his overall assessment.
“I will read the bill in depth,” he said. Part of it seems to be “very rational” in enforcement of immigration laws at work sites, but if it provides for police to stop people randomly and ask for their papers, he’d oppose it as unconstitutional, he said.
“We’ve never done that in Suffolk County,” he said, referring to the idea of such random stops and complaining that past reports falsely suggested that “we were allowing the police department to go out and start questioning” Hispanics who may appear to be undocumented.
That’s very different from cross-referencing names of individuals arrested against a federal database, which is county practice, Levy said.
“Illegal immigration could be solved tomorrow” by the federal government, he said, through an e-verify program that would allow businesses to verify the legal status of current and prospective employees. It was prohibited, he said, “because Democrats want to look the other way on illegal immigration. They want to grow their base” through an amnesty that will mean more registered in the party, he claimed. That said, he added that the status quo is in the interest of “Republican big business owners” who “like the cheap labor.” A common-sense solution is needed, he said.
Can the state take action? “It can’t unless the federal government gives the permission…they specifically wrote that provision into the law,” he said during a half-hour teleconference with reporters this morning.