Escondido, CA. Valley Park, MO. Farmers Branch, TX. Hazleton, PA. All towns that passed anti-immigrant ordinances, all towns that have lost in court either temporarily or permanently. Riverside, New Jersey, saw the writing on the wall. And after Hazleton was invoiced a legal bill of $2.4 million, the deterrent effect of that portion of the Civil Rights Act kicked in. There is a price for violating people’s rights.
So Riverside repealed its anti-immigrant ordinance.
“I think the people realize it’s the right thing to do at this time,” (Mayor George) Conard said of repealing the law that put Riverside in the national spotlight last summer.
Riverside’s decision drew praise from the ACLU.
“We commend Riverside for repealing this wrong-headed law,” said Ed Barocas, Legal Director at the ACLU of New Jersey. “In addition to being illegal, the passage of this ordinance promoted distrust of immigrants – including those here legally – and fueled xenophobia and discrimination.”
“Riverside properly recognized that trying to enforce this ordinance would be a waste of taxpayer money and a violation of the law,” said Omar Jadwat, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Other cities considering similar ordinances should take note of this vote and the fact that these discriminatory and unlawful laws do not hold up in court. Rather than blow city resources on unlawful and mean-spirited ordinances, responsible officials should seek to combat discrimination and ensure that their municipalities are fair for all of their residents.”
And The Philadelphia Inquirer chimed in on Friday.
The township cited a potentially costly court battle as a reason for ditching the law. But the bigger picture is that municipalities such as Riverside and Hazleton, Pa., which passed a similar ordinance, can’t do the job that the federal government ought to be doing.
Congress is still shirking its responsibility to come up with an answer for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
Lawmakers need to come up with a way to sanction the illegal immigrants already here but allow them an avenue to ultimate citizenship.
Gridlock on the problem in Washington has the practical effect of creating a national policy that pretends these undocumented people simply aren’t here.
Andy in Harrisburg