Monday, January 15, 2007

Immigration Issues in the Neighborhood

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute".

So-called immigration reform may soon be coming to a neighborhood near you. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were 2.5 million more illegal immigrants living in the US in 2006 than in 2000. As President Bush has urged Congress to compromise on the divergent House and Senate versions of immigration reform bills, city councils seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Lawmakers in the southern California city of Escondido recently approved an ordinance that will prohibit landlords from renting their properties to illegal immigrants. The measure requires landlords to submit documentation to city authorities to prove their tenants' immigration status. If found in violation, landlords could face suspension of their business licenses and fines. Opponents called the new ordinance racist and said immigration enforcement should be handled by the federal government, not local governments. The ordinance takes effect Nov. 18th, but opponents said they plan to challenge the law in court before city officials begin enforcement. Escondido's ordinance follows passage of similar local immigration enforcement laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.