September 26, 2007


Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants (KEN BELSON and JILL P. CAPUZZO, 9/26/07, NY Times)

RIVERSIDE, N.J., Sept. 25 — A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.

Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled. The noise, crowding and traffic that had accompanied their arrival over the past decade abated.

The law had worked. Perhaps, some said, too well.

With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.

“I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden,” said Mayor George Conard, who voted for the original ordinance. “A lot of people did not look three years out.”

Only the sorts of folks who hate immigrants didn't anticipate the effects. Of course, Tom Tankredo would rather shutter the country than accept immigrants.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 26, 2007 1:24 PM

People = Wealth. It's a very simple equation.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at September 26, 2007 5:02 PM

So once the furor of some legislative proposal dies down people get tired of living with the consequences? You can excuse the American newcomers for not knowing this routine of our political system, but it's harder to excuse the folks who've lived here their entire lives.

It's obviously time to call in Homer Simpson to figure this one out:

Homer: Oh my god, I got so swept up in the scapegoating and fun of Proposition 24 I never stopped to think it might affect somebody I might care about. (Pause) You know what Apu? I am really, really going to miss you.
Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 28, 2007 12:03 AM