Spin Cycle

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

Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), on a barnstorming tour of Long Island political offices today, said a 2005 immigration bill he voted for that led to widespread street prostests was not "anti-illegal" immigrant.

Ford, speaking after a sit-down with Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer in West Babylon, first said he couldn't remember what was in the 2005 House legislation known as the Sensenbrenner Bill, which sparked mass street protests across the country. The bill did not pass the Senate.

"What bill is that now? I probably voted on 5,000 pieces of legislation," he told NY-1's Josh Robin. "What are you telling me I voted in favor of?"

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Reminded by Robin that the bill was "basically a big piece of anti-illegal immigration legislation," Ford replied: "I wouldn’t call it anti-illegal, I do think it tried to go after, as I said back at the last stop, nothing has really changed. There has not been a broad sweeping reform at the federal level on immigration reform. My belief is that there should be. I'm on record, in Congress, speaking on the House floor, I'm on record, in my campaign in 2006, saying that I believe in a clear, legal and understandable pass to citizenship. I don’t believe we should dissolve families and should find ways to keep families whole."

Then, asked if he shares Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's stance on immigration, Ford, who moved to Manhattan in 2007 but has long been a summer visitor to East Hampton, said he's not familiar with it.

"I don’t know who, I don’t know Steve Levy’s record on immigration," he said.