Judgingfrom theTimes'glowing coverage of last year's failed attempt to secure legislation to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants, it's no surprise a local story on a New Jersey town repealing its own illegal immigration legislation is given front-page play. Though the headline claimed "Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants," it's more accurate to say that liberal lawsuits and unsympathetic judges are making towns rethink.
Ken Belson and Jill Capuzzo report from Riverside, N.J. for Wednesday.
"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."
"If ultimately approved in the weeks or months to come, this repeal would mark the end of a law that has not been enforced for even a single day. That's because Riverside has been mired in federal and state challenges since enacting the immigrant restrictions on July 26, 2006."
The baleful tone of the Times' article would certainly serve to wave away any other cities that might be foolhardy enough to try to actually enforce laws against illegal immigration.
"Indeed, Riverside, a town of 8,000 nestled across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, has already spent $82,000 defending its ordinance, and it risked having to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees if it lost in court. The legal battle forced the town to delay road paving projects, the purchase of a dump truck and repairs to town hall, officials said. But while Riverside's about-face may repair its budget, it may take years to mend the emotional scars that formed when the ordinance 'put us on the national map in a bad way,' [Mayor George] Conard said.