Taking a cue from the ugly national debate over immigrant, a little-noticed story is the spread of local and state ordinances aimed at immigrants. The Daytona Beach News-Journal sums up the trend in an editorial today:
It's a distasteful trend. States and towns across the country are manipulating the law to go after illegal immigrants. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 57 pieces of legislation have passed in more than two dozen states (out of 500 introduced) to restrict or cut off employment, health, housing and other benefits to illegal immigrants. Towns are rewriting trespassing, rental, code enforcement and permitting ordinances to literally exclude illegal immigrants from town and declare themselves -- as one small Cape Cod, Mass., town did -- "not a sanctuary for illegal aliens."
Next Monday, the City Council in Avon Park, a town half-way between Orlando and Lake Okeechobee, is scheduled to vote on just such a far-reaching ordinance, the culmination of a debate that has triggered national publicity and ugly reactions, none of those flattering to the American ideals of inclusion and fairness. Antagonism against illegal immigrants shrouds itself in righteous language: "They" should play by the rules, "they" are destroying the fabric of American life, "they" are taking jobs away from Americans. But it's racial and ethnic prejudice, an attempt to use legalese to discriminate against the country's growing Latino population, and to use illegal immigrants as the emotional wedge.