Matt Crosson, the former head of the Long Island Association, passed away last month. During his many years as an opinion leader on Long Island, he was among the most outspoken voices against anti-immigrant hatred we had.
Matt spoke often at forums on immigration, several of which were organized by Long Island Wins. Whenever he discussed immigration he told his audience to reject the scare tactics employed by anti-immigrant groups and the politicians who pander to them. He discussed the role of immigrants in keeping Long Island economically and socially vibrant, and described the many contributions that immigrants and the children of immigrants are making to our two counties.
Crosson speaks at a November 2009 forum hosted by Long Island Wins.
Matt was very worried that the rhetoric of hate employed in Suffolk County was indelibly marking eastern Long Island as a place of intolerance in the eyes of the rest of the nation. After the Marcelo Lucero killing, Matt wondered aloud if Suffolk would be perpetually perceived as a place of racial conflict, as Skokie, Illinois, has been. He warned that this perception would influence the decisions of young professionals about where they would be willing to move, and of corporations looking to locate offices in places less afflicted by discord.
But Matt feared most for the immigrants and their children already living in Suffolk. He once asked what the likely result would be of alienating a sixth of Suffolk’s people from the rest of the community. He also wondered why more Suffolk leaders had stayed silent in the face of violent hatred that they knew was damaging their communities.
Matt Crosson was a voice for reasoned discussion and dialogue about immigration on Long Island. Had Suffolk County adopted the tone and solutions of this man, 10 years of strife would have been avoided and the county would have followed the successful paths to incorporating immigrants that have worked well in Nassau, Westchester, and in New York City.