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Diane Dimond
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Fighting Illegal Immigration at the Local Level


It's a terrible Catch-22. For years now, the powers that be in Washington have done next to nothing to help define and refine the nation's immigration laws. So states and municipalities have started to tackle the job themselves. When the 'locals' are finally exasperated enough to take action, however, they're hauled into court for encroaching on the federal government's purview!

Let me get this straight. The feds won't act to fix our immigration mess, but the states can't do anything either because it's the feds' job? Oh, what a paralyzed mess we've become in this country!

We've all heard about what Arizona did. The state's officials showed real daring in the fight to be proactive about identifying, prosecuting and deporting those who should never have entered America in the first place. Arizona now has the toughest anti-illegal-immigrant laws in the land, but they're also mired in expensive court fights. One such suit has already reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

You may also have heard that this Monday, June 28, people in the small town of Fremont, Neb., vote whether to adopt a first-step law to control those who are in their town illegally through regulating where they can live and work.

But you may not know that almost 40 other municipalities in 18 other states have already gone this route. That's how intense the frustration level is in this country! Government bodies in states across the country have thrown up their hands at the lack of immigration action on Capitol Hill and have tried to tackle the job themselves.

All these local attempts started with something very basic to every human: housing. These state and city lawmakers figured if illegals found it tough to rent a place in their locality, they would go somewhere else. The idea was to make landlords demand hard proof of a renter's citizenship and to enforce strong penalties against those who rented to illegals.

Officials in these places — from Missouri, Illinois and Kansas to the Carolinas, Wisconsin and Oklahoma — ultimately gave up the idea of trying to regulate immigrants' housing mostly because they feared the cost of defending their actions in court. Every time one of these localities talked about how they could legislate the problem, the American Civil Liberties Union or Latino groups made it clear they would immediately file discrimination lawsuits if such laws passed.

Lawmakers in many of the 40 towns or cities also considered penalties against employers who hired undocumented workers, but they gave up on that, too. Again, just too expensive to defend, they explained.

All local attempts have failed. Courts across the land continue to rule that it is the job of the federal government to pass such laws. So where the heck is Washington in all this? President after president comes and goes. Session after session of Congress opens and closes, and we are no closer to any meaningful immigration law changes.

Remember the names Hazelton, Pa., and Farmer's Branch, Texas. Stalwart town leaders in those two locations have refused to give up — or in — to the lawsuits. Along with the state of Arizona, these two towns stand as reminders to Washington that America will continue to hold their feet to the fire until they do something to right the sinking ship that is our current immigration policy.

Hazelton was the first American city to pass a local illegal immigration ordinance in 2006. The Dallas suburb of Farmer's Branch quickly followed the same year. So far, they've spent at least 500 thousand and 3.4 million dollars, respectively, defending their actions to protect their community.

Officials in both places say they fully expect the price tag will rise by several million dollars more. But they've concluded that's cheaper than paying for English as a second language programs in public schools, emergency room and health care costs, and the extra expense for adding more police. In Farmer's Branch, Texas, officials report that since they made their intentions known to crack down on illegal aliens, even the uninsured accident rate has plummeted.

So, when you read about citizens in little Fremont, Neb. — population 25,000 — going to vote next Monday on its immigration ordinance, what will you think? Maybe that it's just another futile attempt to pass a law several courts have already struck down.

I prefer to look at it as thousands more American voices rising up to tell Washington they are getting fed up and want action on the problem.

You know, if you paid a painter or plumber or electrician to do a job that never got done, you'd ask for your money back and fire them. It's a shame we can't do that with our national politicians, as we add immigration reform to the growing list of things they just never seem to get done.

Visit Diane Dimond's official website at for investigative reporting, polls and more. To find out more about Diane Dimond and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



3 Comments | Post Comment
In 1848, California was not a State. It became a State in 1850. In 1889, Oklahoma was not a State, either. It became a State in 1907. In 1848, criminal invaders flocked to California (gold rush) from the 30 States of America and seized the property of the native inhabitants. Anyone who opposed the mass immigration was either annihilated or forced onto reservations. In 1889, the invasion (land grab) came from the 45 States of America and a similar fate befell the native inhabitants of Oklahoma. This was a continuation of the invasion by the first settlers to what is now the contiguous 48 States. Now, it is our borders that are being invaded. The "few" invaders to California and Oklahoma, grew and grew until, they took over. Mexico, among other nations is doing the same to us. Will the survivors of this criminal invasion be content to live on Mexican reservations?
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:36 AM
There has been a Federal law for some years requiring employers to fill out an I-19 form on all new hires documenting citizendhip or legal residence. The law already exists. So what is the enforcement mechanisim?
Comment: #2
Sat Jul 3, 2010 1:58 PM
The Immigration Debate: 04/23/2002 DOJ Memo Directly Contradicts Basis of Obama Lawsuit Against Arizona.
On April 23, 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel (OCL) issued a memorandum concerning the issue of Federal Preemption of concurrent State enforcement of criminal and civil viloations under the Immigration Laws of the United States. That memo states, "we determine that our 1996 advice was mistaken and that we should have concluded that federal statutory law posed no obstacle to the authority of state (and local) police to arrest aliens on the basis of civil deportability". The memo offered the following conclusions: 1). States have inherent power to make arrests for violation of Federal Law including Civil and Criminal violations of Federal Immigration Laws. 2). It would be unreasonable to assume Congress acted in a manner that would deprive the Federal Government of whatever assistance the States could provide in the identification, apprehension and detention of those in violation of Federal Immigration Laws. 3). That prior opinions of the DOJ were erroneous, that Federal Law did not preempt the States from making arrests for both civil and criminal violations of Federal Immigration law.
Comment: #3
Posted by: mcauleysworld
Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:39 AM
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