West Texas: United policy needed on immigration

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed Jun 28 13:00:01 UTC 2006

United policy needed on immigration
Midland Reporter-Telegram

The current debate on immigration issues isn't just a border problem and
cities across the nation are beginning to take matters into their own
hands to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants.Take the town of
Hazelton, a city 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia. This town is
embarking on one of the toughest crackdowns on illegal immigrants anywhere
in the United States. Last week the mayor of this former coal town
introduced, and the City Council tentatively approved, a measure that
would revoke the business licenses of companies that employ illegal
immigrants; impose $1,000 fines on landlords who rent to illegal
immigrants; and make English the official language of the city.

In 2000, Hispanics represented about 5 percent of Hazelton's population of
23,000. The population has since shot up to 31,000, with Hispanics now
representing 30 percent, lured to Hazletonby cheap housing, a lower cost
of living and jobs in nearby plants, factories and farms. City officials
admit they do not know how many of the new arrivals are in the United
States illegally, but they are blaming the new arrivals for fueling the
drug trade, joining gangs and committing other crimes. We see this as a
dangerous approach to the immigrant problem since this situation does not
answer the problem of border security. Cities acting as their own national
clearing house are not rational since the motive might be racial in tone
rather than actually dealing with illegals.

However, Hazelton isn't alone. Municipal officials around the nation,
frustrated at what they perceive as the federal government's inability to
stem illegal immigration, have increasingly taken matters into their own
hands. In San Bernardino, Calif., for instance, is considering whether to
adopt a measure nearly identical to the one in Hazleton. An Idaho county
has filed a racketeering lawsuit against agricultural companies accused of
hiring illegal immigrants. A pair of police chiefs in New Hampshire have
begun arresting illegal immigrants for trespassing. If nothing else, the
moves by these cities should be noted by Congress.  This is a clear call
that we need a new national immigration policy that will be the law of the
land. That will do more to protect the rights of individuals than anything
we could do city by city. Let our actions be the same across the board.


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