[Marxism] "A Haven Indeed" New Haven, CT Immigration Policies
John A Imani
johnaimani at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 8 15:36:01 MDT 2007
A Haven indeed
Aug 2nd 2007 | NEW HAVEN
>From The Economist print edition
One city devises its own immigration policy
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MARICELA was eight when, with her parents, she crossed the border from Mexico. Twelve years later, a high-school graduate with an American accent, she is still illegal, unable easily to rent a flat, open a bank account or get a library card. She and the 10,000-12,000 other undocumented immigrants in New Haven, Connecticut, are hoping that a new policy may make their lives better.
As the federal government has proved itself incapable of formulating an immigration policy, local governments are stepping in as they did on health care and the environment. New Haven, home to Yale University, is already considered a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. It offers help in filing federal taxes, and it has ordered its police not to inquire about immigrants' status. Last week it became the first city to issue its own ID card. All 125,000 residents may have one: legal and illegal, children as well as adults.
The card cannot be used for federal or state services, but it will allow holders to use city beaches and libraries. It can also be used as a debit card at many downtown restaurants and shops, and for parking meters. Two banks, First City and Sovereign, have agreed to accept the card, allowing users to open accounts. Until now, most of the city's undocumented immigrants were forced either to carry their cash or to hide it at home, making themselves easy targets for muggers and burglars.
These immigrants, mostly from Latin America, make up most of the block-long application queue at city hall. The card costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. The rest of the programme's costs will be funded by a $250,000 grant from First City.
In June the town's board of aldermen approved the measure by a vote of 25 to one. Less than two days later, immigration and customs enforcement agents conducted home raids on undocumented immigrants, with 32 arrests. Only five of those arrested had outstanding warrants. John DeStefano, New Haven's mayor, suspects the raids were in retaliation for the card. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, has denied it. Further raids have been suspended.
City officials say the data collected during the application process will be kept confidential. Information will probably not be shared with the federal government unless someone is under criminal investigation. Michael Wishnie, a Yale law professor who has been retained by the city to fight any court challenges, points out the cards are no different from records already possessed by the Internal Revenue Service and by health and welfare agencies.
While cities like New York, Miami and San Francisco are considering adapting similar programmes, others are trying to tighten laws. Last year Hazelton, a small Pennsylvania town, began fining landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and penalising employers for hiring them. On July 26th a federal judge struck down the measure. The ruling has national implications, as 100 other cities have adopted something similar.
New Haven's anti-immigration groups say the cards violate federal laws against aiding illegal immigration. And they fear the city will be inundated with illegal migrants. But it is not easy to obtain a card. Residents must show valid government-issued photo identification, such as a passport, driving licence or consular document. They must also prove residency in New Haven with two utility bills, a pay stub, tax statements, or documents from health and social-service agencies. About 25-50% of applicants are turned away for not having the papers required. Maricela did not get a card; she could not prove she was a resident of New Haven.
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