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Illegal Immigration in Small Communities

By RHarrison | 28 February 2007 | Illegal Aliens, Crime | 18 Comments

Judicial Watch held a fascinating briefing this morning at the National Press Club focusing on illegal immigration’s impact on local government. The speakers were Starletta Hairston (Former Council Member, Beaufort, SC), Louis Barletta (Mayor, Hazelton, PA) and our own Delegate Jackson Miller. The event painted a picture that will be familiar to many of you. Each of the participants was a political leader in an area affected by illegal aliens. Each tried to do something about it. And each in turn has been sued for their efforts.

Ms. Hairston discussed the decline in her home town as the Hispanic population grew 273% between 1990 and 2003. Her local hospitals were, at one point spending $12 million per year on indigent care. Her county’s schools were spending $22 million each year on ESL, while the federal government was reimbursing the entire state of South Carolina $2 million annually for the classes.

As a small business owner, Ms. Hairston described the effect illegal immigration has on the business climate in Beaufont. Illegal aliens were crowding out American workers and American owned businesses. Wages were falling – but only if companies were willing to hire illegal aliens. If you weren’t, you lost business because your labor costs were too high. In the end, Ms. Hairston and her husband moved their business out of South Carolina rather than hire undocumented workers.

As she described the situation in Beaufort, Ms. Hairston frequently cited statistics on Hispanics and the behavior of the Hispanic population, which she acknowledged was problematic since most Hispanics are not illegal aliens. But, as Ms. Hairston pointed out, schools, hospitals and in some cases even police departments are prohibited from collecting citizenship data on their students, patients and inmates, making it impossible to distinguish between citizens, immigrants and illegal aliens.

Delegate Miller brought his unique law-enforcement perspective to the discussion by telling a few stories about gang members and other violent illegal aliens he encountered. But he was even more persuasive when he discussed the smaller things: over crowding, uninsured motorists and nascence crimes. While some illegal aliens are violent criminals, most are not – but that’s not the point. Even petty crimes, like driving without insurance, can have a huge impact on small communities.

Mayor Barletta had, by far, the best stories to tell. He described how Hazelton, PA, a town accustomed to one murder every seven years, declined to the point where murders were a weekly event. He eloquently described the day, May 10, 2005, when he realized he had lost his city. On that day a 14 year old illegal alien fired a gun into a playground full of children. That night, a resident was murdered in his driveway by two illegal aliens. This murder case alone cost the police half of its annual overtime budget.

Mayor Barletta’s primary accomplishment to that point had been taking a city facing a deficit of $1.5 million (out of a total budget of $6 million) and turning that into a half million dollar surplus. Now they are in the red again as police, health and education costs skyrocket.

You can read more about Hazelton’s efforts here.

All three speakers mentioned MS-13 gang activity in their jurisdictions. Mayor Barletta said openly that his town was not equipped to deal with such a violent organization. Delegate Miller praised Congressman Wolf’s efforts to combat the gang in Northern Virginia.

In each case, the jurisdictions involved tried to enact legislation in response to illegal aliens. Beaufort County and Hazelton both passed ordinances limiting access to businesses licenses to companies who hire illegal aliens. Hazelton also sought to punish landlords who rent to illegal aliens.

Manassas went a different route. It tried to define how distant a family member could be and still count as “family” under housing laws.

The result in each case was the same: lawsuits. Beaufort and Hazelton are being sued by the ACLU and other groups, Manassas by the DOJ and HUD. (I think the ACLU is also involved, although Delegate Miller didn’t actually mention them.)

When asked about Congress, all three had the same response, best summed up by Delegate Miller: “McCain – Kennedy is a farce.” He was referring to the big immigration bill that Senators McCain and Kennedy are about to introduce. It is expected to be very similar to the large immigration bill that failed to pass last year. Mayor Barletta commented that the McCain – Kennedy bill was designed to “calm” the public, rather than solve real problems.

Delegate Miller discussed why so few politicians were willing to fight for these issues, even though they have broad support in the general public. His answer: fear of being labeled a racist. As Delegate Miller pointed out, opponents of anti-illegal alien laws are well organized, well funded and know how to seize the rhetorical high-ground. Too many politicians would just rather not mess with them out of fear of being branded.

Both Miller and Barletta said most Hispanics in their communities support their position. Hispanics don’t like the crime, mess and crowding caused by illegal aliens any more than the rest of us. But, again out of fear, many are unwilling to speak up publicly to say so.

I think Ms. Hairston summed things up the best, saying “Everyone is entitled to respect, but everyone also has to follow the rules.”

The briefing brought together three good, reasonable, knowledgeable experts on the effects of illegal immigration on local communities. The stories they told provide strong evidence of the damage being done by our ineffective immigration policies. Their legal battles provide testimony to the strength of pro-illegal alien groups.

Overall, the briefing was well organized and attended, although also disappointing in two ways. First, Delegate Miller expressed his desire not to remain in office as a career – a statement I hope proves to be wrong. Second, only a few media outlets were in attendance. NPR was there, as were a few specialized publications, but none of the big networks. I suppose that is to be expected.

The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.

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You can follow the discussion through the Comments feed.


  1. Greg L said on 28 Feb 2007 at 4:40 pm:
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    Thanks so much for being there to cover this. Looks like I missed out.

  2. Big Dog said on 28 Feb 2007 at 5:02 pm:
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    Thank you for this posting - it hits the nail on the head.
    No matter what one thinks of illegal immigration, the
    hard economic fact is it blows up the budgets of local
    governments - especially ones, like Manassas, that
    provide major funding for public education.

    And read the article buried on page A8 of today’s
    MJM — “Managers plead guilty to hiring illegals” -
    IFCO Systems hired 1,100 illegals on purpose! Imagine
    this the tip of an iceberg. Put up all the barriers you
    want, but ants will keep coming until you cover the
    sugar bowl.

  3. citizenofmanassas said on 28 Feb 2007 at 6:01 pm:
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    Just goes to show you bad political correctness has ruined this Country. Oh well, I suppose once America becomes too much like Mexico, Canada will start to have an illegal immigration problem, since America will no longer be the stopping point for illegals.

  4. Maureen Wood said on 28 Feb 2007 at 6:02 pm:
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    Dang Russ, where ya been? Your piece was informative, thanks.

  5. park'd said on 28 Feb 2007 at 6:03 pm:
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    I really want to go to these meetings that I have been reading about here but I am just too afraid that my blood pressure will skyrocket and I won’t be able to compose myself, especially if there are any city execs present. I am so sick of the ACLU and all of these bottom feeder legal rights groups that support criminals that it just makes me sick. Every one of them should be rounded up and tried for treason and dealt with as the law sees fit.

    I feel I may serve the community better by moving away from this area and letting the illegals and their corrupt politician supporters have it. This is assuming that at this point I am even able to sell my house. Nobody wants to live in this town any more except for illegals, and with no construction jobs even they are not likely to be able to afford it.

    I am disgusted with the federal government, state government, the city of manassas park, the citizens of manassas park, and myself for letting it get this bad…

    Keep up the good fight, and with the grace of God we may some day be able to bring law and order back to this town.

  6. TheOldTown Observer said on 28 Feb 2007 at 6:19 pm:
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    Thank you for the coverage. Looks like my support of Del. Miller is bearing fruit. We must all make certain that he runs again. His Zapatista supporting opponent is sure to be back. Jackson has done one hell-of-a-job representing us.

  7. Had to Say said on 28 Feb 2007 at 6:24 pm:
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    Communities all over the U.S are being overrun by illegals! Until the Federal government steps up and enforces our laws, local government will keep trying to find ways that will help alleviate the probem at the local level.

    Heres another example


  8. Had to Say said on 28 Feb 2007 at 9:30 pm:
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    I went to Wal-Mart today AKA Little Mexico. I needed hair conditioner and the brand I use, “Sun Silk” was written completely in Spanish! No English writing was to be found on the bottle. Needless to say I didn’t buy it and they will be getting a phone call letting them know how upset I am. I will tell everyone I know about it. I’m not sure who makes “Sun Silk” but when I find out I will no longer buy their products.

  9. anon said on 1 Mar 2007 at 12:20 am:
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    If McPain (McCain) gets the nomination in 2008, are you going to hold your nose and vote for him, stay home, or vote third party?

  10. Batson D. Belfrey said on 1 Mar 2007 at 9:35 am:
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    Glad to see our own Jackson Miller at the forefront of this issue, which reassures me that my faith in his representation is well-placed. I think that as much as McLame wants to deny it, illegal immigration will overshadow the war in Iraq as the defining issue of the primary season, and as such, will be his undoing.

  11. Patty said on 1 Mar 2007 at 12:54 pm:
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    To the person who wants to move because of illegal aliens. Please don’t move because if you do they (the illegals) will win. Please stay and help us fight. There are things that we can do like keeping pressure on our local governments and electing state senators that want to do something about illegals. We can also boycott businesses that hire and cater to illegal aliens.

    By the way I always see a mexican food truck opened for business parked in the handicapped spaces at the Shell station near Toys R Us shopping center. Does anyone know about this? Do we need to boycott that Shell station?

  12. Had to Say said on 1 Mar 2007 at 1:29 pm:
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    If they are in the Handicap spaces you really should call the police on them. They are breaking the law by doing this. If you know the name of the company, I would call the county to make sure they have a business license and a permit to sell.
    I’m not sure but I would say they have to have a permit from the health dept. to operate a food service.

    If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, let Greg L know the name of the company and I will look into it for you. Or post the name on here.

    I also agree with you about not moving. The more people that stay and demand something be done about overcrowding and illegal immigration the more our government will feel the pressure and take action.

  13. anon said on 1 Mar 2007 at 5:00 pm:
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    Manassas Park has a fine tradition of people moving out when they just didn’t like what was going on.

    Obviously the most recent example is Adam Larson.

  14. anon said on 1 Mar 2007 at 5:02 pm:
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    There was also the owner of DataCity who moved out after the city couldn’t stop a by-right development on Digital Drive. This was after he got the entire Belmont Station neighborhood riled up about it.

  15. TheOldTown Observer said on 2 Mar 2007 at 6:57 pm:
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    Does the Giuliani ad above mean you like him? At the risk of receiving a sound drubbing from some of your other readers, I must say I find Rudy an attractive National Candidate. Whether he can get the nomination is another question. Like Romney, he may have to change a few of his positions to garner the support he needs, but he did one-hell-of-a-job cleaning up NYC,that place was one huge PESTHOLE when he took over. He faught the ACLU, stuck the Squeegee guys in jail, routed the Mob, kicked ass on the City’s crooked labor unions and cleaned up the crooked waterfront. If he hones in on the illegal immigation problem and backs off on gun control some, I’m sending him some money.

  16. Greg L said on 2 Mar 2007 at 7:40 pm:
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    No, it’s not an endorsement, it’s an advertisement. Giuliani is worth considering as a candidate given his exemplary leadership and record, although there are a few issues in which I rather strongly disagree with him.

    I’ll be discussing some of the candidates soon, where there’s a tie-in to more local issues.

  17. citizenofmanassas said on 3 Mar 2007 at 4:30 pm:
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    I could not find the BofA thread, so I thought this might be the best fit for this. I sent BofA an email about their program targeting criminals(illegal aliens), and this is the reply I received back. They make no bones about coming right out and saying they are targeting the hispanic community. I wonder if they would be so bold as to tailer a program just for whites, or some other racial or ethnic group?

    Of course their two ID requirement is a joke. And if this program fails, guess who will have to pick up the bill? BofA will pass the cost onto their legal customers.

    Thank you for contacting Bank of America.

    Bank of America created this pilot in Los Angeles to help current
    customers who have deposits with us, but little or no credit history,
    build a credit history. The program is consistent with our goal of
    helping our customers meet their financial needs.

    We are careful to comply with U.S. laws and regulations, including the
    USA Patriot Act, and use the same criteria to extend credit across our
    entire customer base. We require all customers to provide us with two
    forms of identification, one of which must be an unexpired U.S. or
    foreign government-issued identification card. Our banking center
    associates then verify the identity of the customer.

    Customers who sign up for this particular credit card program must also
    have an existing deposit account with us.

    This program is being piloted in predominantly Hispanic communities in
    southern California, and offers a secured credit card to existing Bank
    of America deposit account holders who have little or no credit

    We appreciate the opportunity to assist you online. Should you have any
    further inquiries, please e-mail us again.

    Thomas T. Brown, Bank of America

  18. Anonymous said on 1 Aug 2007 at 10:17 am:
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    I’m sorry I don’t agree with everybody.
    For one : If your not involed with a hispanic person or have one in your family.Than I think that everybody is being racist. Because nobody scimes to care about anyone but their own race.
    If the world would give equal rights than we all would be happy.Everybody would have to pay taxes, than taxes wouldn’t have to go up every year.
    Also if a hispanic goes to jail they should have to pull the some time that you and I would. instead of getting deported and we have to pay for that in our taxes.
    If the hispanics had the rights like us than they could pay taxes too. and
    Just think everybody whats the hispanic people out if here BUT you have to think whats going to happen to all the people that has kids with them, The people going to have to go on welfare because one of their parents got deported .This means the other parent most likily are not going to be able to supports their children/ or child, and most likily the kids are going to grow up with lots of problems because they only grew up with one parent , and was on welfare all their life and had to live in the poor side of town because there was never enough money for anything the kids wanted. Because one of their parents got deported .
    Just would like for everybody to think of everything that’s going to happen to this world when everybody keeps taken these kids parents away .

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