Let's get real about harsh anti-immigrant laws and their implications

From the Restore Fairness blog.

The small town of Fremont, Nebraska is the latest in a series of U.S. towns that have decided to take immigration law into their own hands. On Monday, the 21st of June, 57% of the town’s 25,000 residents voted in favor of a law that would ban landlords from renting to people that were undocumented, and ban employers from hiring people without the correct immigration documents. The measure will require city officials and employers to verify people’s immigration status before taking them on as employees or tenants.

The arguments in support of this measure are similar to those heard in Arizona from those that support SB1070, the Arizona law that makes it a misdemeanor to be undocumented in Arizona and sanctions local law enforcement to stop people who appear reasonably suspicious of being undocumented. In Fremont, those in favor of the anti-immigrant ordinance attribute it to the Federal government’s inaction on the issue of immigration. A resident of Fremont, Trevor McClurg thinks that it is a fair measure. He said, “I don’t think it’s right to be able to rent to them or hire them. They shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

Speaking to the Associated Press, 56 year old Alfredo Velez, who runs a general store in Fremont and is an American citizen, has a very different opinion. Surprised by the law, he was only certain about one thing. “We’re not welcome here,” he said, expressing concern about the future of the town’s Hispanic population and his store, Guerrero, which sells products from Central America and Mexico. The town, about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, has seen its Latino population grow in leaps and bounds in the last decade due to the availability of jobs at the nearby Fremont beef and Hormel factories. Velez, who is the father of four and has lived in the town for 12 years, considers it home and has no plans of leaving, but was incredibly hurt by the high percentage of residents that voted to get the anti-immigrant ordinance passed. An owner of a building downtown, he is certain that if passed, this law will scare people away from the town, chasing away many potential renters.

The probable implications of a law like this are huge, and can run much deeper than deterring immigrants from settling in the town. In addition to inciting racial discrimination and racist sentiments, laws like this often result in length legal battles, the costs of which have to be filled by town taxes. In Fremont, the American Civil Liberties Union has already planned to file a lawsuit opposing the new measure. Explaining the motivation behind such bills, Amy Miller, ACLU Nebraska’s legal director said-

I’m afraid this is part of a larger, nationwide trend, most obviously typified by what has happened in Arizona,”There is no rational reason for Fremont to be worried about protecting our border. But it is a community, like many in rural Nebraska, where the only population growth has been in new immigrants, many of them people of color.

ACLU Nebraska has two main problems with the bill. She feels that in addition to immigration policy being a federal function, the measure violates the14th amendment of the constitution, which guarantees due process to everyone in the U.S., not just American citizens. Other cities with similar ordinances such as Hazelton, PA and Riverside, NJ, have faced lawsuits that have kept the laws tied up in the courts, preventing them from being implemented and resulting in extremely high legal costs for the cities. City officials in Fremont are estimating up to $1 million dollars as the cost of the ordinance, including legal fees, employee overtime and computer software, not taking into account the deduction in city taxes that will take place as a result of the law driving away people who fear being targeted by it.

And it isn’t just small towns that are passing laws such as this. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 5 other states (South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Michigan) are looking at copycat legislation, and as per a Washington think tank, NDN, 17 other states had expressed interest in similar laws. Lawmakers in cities such as Fremont should learn a lesson or two from Arizona when executing harsh anti-immigrant measures such as this.

Even before Arizona’s SB1070 has been implemented,it has been responsible for sizable numbers of people, especially Latinos, leaving their homes in Arizona and moving to other states. Although there is no official data tracking the numbers of people leaving, piecemeal information from businesses, schools and health centers indicates that since Gov. Brewer signed SB1070 on April 23rd, the populations of Hispanic neighborhoods is dwindling. Latino families that are frightened about the repercussions of the law for their children and community, are pulling their children from schools, leaving their jobs and uprooting their lives to move elsewhere, in moves that are highly risky given the current economy. According to Alan Langston, president of the Arizona Rental Property Owners & Landlords Association in Phoenix, landlords and realty companies will be hard hit by the new law. In Phoenix’s Belleview street, home to a large Latino population, now more than half of the properties have “for rent” signs hanging outside them.

Additionally, dozens of healthcare clinics in Arizona are concerned because people are too afraid of being questioned about their immigrations status to show up to their appointments. Tara McCollum Plese, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers, which oversees 132 facilities said that people are either moving away or too afraid to turn up, and the health care workers are worried about the implications of people resisting treatment. “We’re actually worried about communicable diseases,” said Tara, speaking to the Washington Post. Educators are worried that with so many children being pulled out of schools, they may be forced to cut programs and lay off teachers, since lower enrollment means funding cuts for schools. According to the Washington Post-

Parents pulled 39 children out of Balsz Elementary, which has a 75 percent Hispanic student body, since April 23…In the small, five-school district, parents have pulled out 111 children, said district Superintendent Jeffrey Smith, who cites the new law as the leading factor. Smith said each student represents roughly $5,000 in annual funding to the district, so a drop of 111 students would represent roughly a $555,000 funding cut.

Small businesses like grocery stores and car washes are already feeling the impact of the law as well, having lost up to 30% of their business in the last two months. Most recently, Phoenix’s police chief released an estimate saying that once implemented, the enforcement of SB1070 would cost the city of Phoenix up to $10 million per year, as a result of the clause that makes it a criminal, rather than civil offense to be in the state without the correct documents.

State legislatures taking immigration law into their own hands can have a potentially devastating impact on the economies and communities of their states. It is imperative that the Federal government acts to pass immigration reform before more states follow suit. Take action now and write to Congress and President Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform that upholds due process.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org




fake news abt Scott Brown


slightly related fake news -


      Some of the News
      That may be True


      Roger Andrews, president of the influential think tank American Values Institute, announced yesterday that it had hired new Senator Scott Brown as a part time analyst and commentator.
      The Senator will have an office at the Institute and access to its extensive research team.

      Andrews conceded that this was a departure from the Institute's policy of separation from political officeholders. However, the Institutes Board was so impressed by Brown's body of work and instant prominence that an exception was warranted.

      Mr. Andrews closed the conference with the statement that the Institute was looking forward to a long and productive relationship with Senator Brown.

      homer www.altara.blogspot.com


Progressive Economic Think Tank Set To Launch

Let's hope Milton Friedman is strapped down in his grave.  Tomorrow, Southern California's leading progressives will host the founding conference of the Horizon Institute, a new Los Angeles based think tank dedicated to advancing a progressive economic agenda.  

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Mario Cuomo, former New York Governor, Blogs on the Challenges Facing Our Next President

Everyone remembers former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo's famed speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention. Even me (and I was 5).  In it he said:  "President Reagan told us from the very beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. `Government can't do everything,' we were told, so it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class." The speech could have just as easily been delivered in 2007 as 1984. So as the country plunges into another Presidential election cycle, Governor Cuomo, a practitioner and one of the left's most eloquent voices, once again asks to candidates to step back and examine their governing philosophy and the challenges the country faces, arguing that pat answers and rhetoric are insufficient to address them.

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Who Knew?

(this post by DMIBlog's Amy Traub) It's just terrible luck. In the last few years, our nation's wise and farsighted public policies have been continually undermined by random events that no one could in any way have foreseen or prepared for.

"I don't think anyone could have anticipated the sectarian violence."

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

And most recently, Angelo R. Mozilo, CEO of the nation's largest mortgage lending company, on the ongoing collapse of the housing bubble: "Nobody saw this coming."

Of course, in all of these cases, many people not only foresaw the potential for disaster, but made practical suggestions for averting it. Policymakers simply didn't choose to listen. Which leads us to the question of what we might be missing right now, and what we could be doing about it.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, is one of those people who saw the bursting of the housing bubble coming years ago and had some ideas about how to mitigate the damage. While many mainstream pundits and analysts are still speaking hopefully of a "soft landing" for housing markets, Baker sees a recession looming, possibly a severe one.  

In a report released in August,  Baker notes that residential construction alone accounts for about 5% of the U.S. economy. Then we have consumer spending, partially fueled in recent years by people borrowing against the value of their homes to sustain a higher standard of living than they could otherwise afford. State and local governments will be harmed by the loss of property tax revenue. Not to mention the vast majority of American homeowners, whose house is by far their most valuable asset, and who planned their retirement based on the widespread assumption that it would hold its value.

Because the fundamental problem is that housing prices are overvalued, Baker notes, it is inevitable the that problems in the sub-prime mortgage sector will spread into the rest of the housing market.

That brings us to what we can do about it. The bad news is that there's no way to stop the bubble from bursting. Overvalued housing prices must come down to earth eventually. From the point of view of home owners and prospective buyers, it's better to get the correction over as quickly as possible. From the perspective of the economy as a whole, it's best if it deflates gradually. But in the meantime, Baker has a proposal for making sure that at least people entrapped by predatory mortgages don't get thrown out of their homes. It would save neighborhoods from the blight of widespread foreclosures and it doesn't involve bailing out the banks that made irresponsible loans to begin with.

Of course, it's possible that we've seen the worst already and actually have nothing more to worry about when it comes to the housing sector. After all, President Bush is confident that the problems are "modest" and "America's overall economy will remain strong enough to weather any turbulence." Perhaps he doesn't know anyone who could anticipate things getting worse.

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