OF all American big cities, New York ranks most accommodating to newcomers, including illegal immigrants.

This reputation thrives under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who has nothing but high praise for their contributions to the culture, language, cuisine and economy.

“We have to go and get the immigrants here,” he told “Meet the Press” in a recent interview televised nationally.

When he began his third and last term a year ago, he went a step further: he proposed a national task force of big-city mayors to press Congress for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration policy.

He argued that immigrants are good for the economy, pay taxes, open small businesses and create jobs.

This is so true to his character as a longtime important ally of the city’s immigrant communities.

But whether he can provoke a national debate on a thorny issue that has frustrated even President Barack Obama is viewed with skepticism.

Complicating the equation is the recent takeover of the House by Republicans who prefer enforcing current immigration laws instead of making new ones that, as Obama intends, may lead to citizenship for an estimated 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

But it’s still a nice try, to go national.

Instead, he should stay in the ‘hood where he is the undisputed advocate of immigrants.

He could do more.

For instance, he should expand legal representation for immigrants, entitling them to court-appointed lawyers in the civil courts where their immigration violations are adjudicated.

He could calm frazzled nerves at a time the Homeland Security Administration, and other federal agencies, are out hunting for immigrants with brushes with law to deport at the first flight out of the country.

About 3,200 foreign-born are deported a year.

But some of them have not even been convicted of, or even charged with, serious crimes.

While there is one nonprofit agency, Legal Services NYC, that guard against “humiliating discriminations” of non-English speaking immigrants, it is no match to the massive powers and resources now employed by the government against this singular target of the population.

It is fundamental to keep the city safe, and to punish the lawbreakers, regardless of their status.

But in all cases the law must be meted fairly, squarely and humanely.

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