Walter Tejada’s “Agenda For Progress” in Arlington is meeting some significant pushback from county residents who view his plan to allow rental units in residential neighborhoods as official encouragement for illegal aliens to unlawfuly reside in the county. Given Tejada’s actions over the past year, I can understand why they might get this impression, since he has pretty much declared Arlington a sanctuary jurisdiction. Until now, high housing prices have largely prevented the influx of illegal aliens into most of the neighborhoods in this jurisdiction, but with this potential change in the county’s zoning ordinances, the availability of low-cost housing would skyrocket and almost certainly be absorbed by illegal aliens leaving jurisdictions that are less accomodating towards the willful violation of federal immigration laws.
Retiree Rick Barry, 75, said that he considers the plan a wrongheaded assault on Arlington’s way of life and that he fears it would attract immigrants displaced from Prince William County, which has enacted a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
“You work hard to get your family into a single-family neighborhood,” Barry said. “We have a very nice neighborhood character, and we should do whatever it takes to keep it as it is.”
Merryl Burpoe, a government relations consultant, said Arlington’s “beautiful, stable” neighborhoods are at risk.
“We moved here for the quality of life Arlington affords,” she said. “We paid a lot for our homes.”
When homeowners in the Arlington Ridge Civic Association were surveyed about the proposal, 92 percent were opposed, said Larry Mayer, president of the Arlington County Civic Federation.
“A lot of single-family homeowners believe these [rental units] will proliferate all over Arlington,” Mayer said.
While it is terribly unlikely that voters in Arlington County will ever successfully push for legislative reforms that would discourage the unlawful presence of illegal aliens, Tejada’s push to further accomodate illegal aliens is starting to result in a backlash by county residents who have been grumbling about publicly funded day laborer centers, taxpayer-financed housing subsidies for illegal aliens, and restrictions on police officersthat prohibit them from questioning suspected illegal aliens about their immigration status. These policies violate state and federal laws, and as Walter Tejada continues to pick and choose which state and federal laws he is willing to have the county comply with, his “Agenda For Progress” is being revealed as the threat to Arlington’s quality of life that it actually is.
Local policies that encourage illegal aliens have significantly harmed several communities in the area, given the substantial body of evidence which demonstrates the actual effects of these policies, it is no wonder that Arlington residents are resisting this proposal. In Maryland, such policies have encouraged residential overcrowding that not only harms neighborhoods, but clearly isn’t benefitting the illegal aliens who crowd into them.
Jose Campos suffered in packed, chaotic apartments for several years after coming from El Salvador in 2004. The 57-year-old laborer rented a sliver of floor space among an ever-changing crowd of roommates who were, he said, more likely to steal his modest possessions than neaten up the kitchen or bathroom.
“It was very bad,” he said. “When they were home, they were drunk.”
It’s little wonder that Arlington County residents, many of whom paid a high premium for the opportunity to live in safe and desireable neighborhoods are balking at the prospect of inviting illegal aliens into their midst. An effort to transform Arlington into something resembling Wheaton, Maryland is not going to appeal to the local electorate one bit.
Had Arlington simply continued their relatively quiet tolerance of illegal aliens and not started to push in ways that would share the impacts of illegal immigration with a wider swath of the electorate, Tejada probably could have continued his efforts to encourage the transformation of Arlington into a “diverse” community of largely Latin-American illegal aliens living in neighborhoods conveniently segregated from the upscale enclaves preferred by guilt-ridden white liberals eager to bow to Tejada’s agenda. Now that the impacts are likely to become more broadly borne, some of these folks are beginning to question their devotion to ethnic preference, and those who never had such a devotion are seeing the opportunity to start scalinig back these destructive policies. Tejada may well have overstepped here, opening the potential for a much broader debate on public policy that isn’t dominated by illegal alien apologists.
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