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The news that Donald Trump would be speaking at the Suffolk County Republican annual dinner in Patchogue Village revved up one of our newest cottage industries — the illegal immigration lobby — to resurface and call for the cancellation of the event.

Many of the rabble-rousers included far left activists and the biased media elites at the New York Times Editorial Board who felt compelled to rehash the horrible slaying of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero on the streets of Patchogue in 2008.

They continue to disgracefully claim that Suffolk residents, including yours truly, who opposed open borders while favoring the simple enforcement of our existing immigration laws, were somehow responsible for this heinous murder.

And now they’ve lumped Trump into the conversation as well.

Many of these advocates are probably assuming that I will be there supporting Trump at the event. Sorry to disappoint them. Actually, I’m not a Trump supporter. I won’t be voting for him in either the primary or general elections. With that said, I will defend to the ends of the earth Trump’s right to exercise his First Amendment rights.

I find it ironic that the far left — which professes to be protesting against intolerance — is in fact the most intolerant sector of the American mosaic. All one has to do is visit a typical college campus — the majority of which are influenced and controlled by far left administrators and faculty — to notice how those with views differing from the leftists are shouted down, or even barred from campus. A more un-America posture is hard to fathom.

If they wish to protest outside the hall in which Trump is speaking, more power to them. That’s exercising the cherished rights to free speech. But any attempt to disrupt Trump’s speech inside the event amounts to a violation of Donald Trump’s right to exercise his free speech. There are laws against disturbing the rights of others to peacefully assemble and they should be enforced.

While I am not a Trump supporter, I do understand why he is resonating with so many Americans. Indeed, it is the condescension and belittling of average Americans by the politically correct far-left crowd and media that have driven so many to latch onto Trump’s in-your-face response to these elites.

There’s no doubt that Trump went much too far in his comments about Mexican immigrants. While I don’t think he meant to say that a majority of illegal immigrants are here to commit violent acts, the point is he did intimate that was the case.

He easily could have clarified by noting that he over-generalized and was merely suggesting that some — not all, or even most of these immigrants — are here for nefarious purposes. But he refused to do so. Those unfortunate and inaccurate words obfuscated the more important part of his platform, which called for the strengthening of our border.

Those of us who have been shouting into deaf ears to get our immigration laws enforced have found Trump to be quite a conundrum. On the one hand, we finally have a national candidate who is speaking out forcefully about the need to secure our border.

A wall would help immeasurably. To those who say they physical borders don’t work, tell that to the Israelis who saw suicide bombings in their territory drop precipitously after their wall was constructed. And if fences didn’t work, I guess the White House and the Vatican would have taken theirs down.

Yet, there was no need for Trump to vilify the average illegal immigrant as being a predator. The overwhelming majority are here just to improve their standard of living. Yet, that’s not an excuse for them to cut in line of the 4 million folks waiting to get in the right way.

Trump’s inaccurate statement about violent immigrants, coupled with his advocacy of banning any Muslims from coming to America, has unfortunately given fodder to the extremists on the left who try to paint reasonable people advocating reasonable enforcement of our immigration laws as being xenophobic bigots. 

There is no need for Trump to be so extreme; the illegal alien lobby cannot win the debate on the merits.

They can’t justify people cutting in line. They can’t deny the deleterious economic impact illegal immigration is having on our schools, emergency rooms and the suppression of wages. 

So, instead, they seek to demonize Americans expressing concern about these realities as being anti-Hispanic zealots. And as we saw with the killing of Marcelo Lucero, they’ll go so far as to say that opposition to illegal immigration leads to murder. It’s so over the top I had to dedicate a good part of my book, Bias in the Media, to this very subject.

So, to the Trump protestors I say: embrace your constitutional right to stand outside the Republican event and denounce Trump’s policies if you like. But respect Trump’s right to exercise his rights to free expression as well. Above all, stop trying to demonize those you disagree with.

You’ll only wind up driving more folks into Donald Trump’s camp.

Steve Levy when he was the County Executive for Suffolk County.

Photo Credit: John Griffin/Riverhead News-Review