Saturday, October 07, 2006

Local governments continue to weigh in

After nine months of dithering, Congress' resolution to the immigration debate was dismal and disappointing for everyone on all sides of the issue. This is the best our nation's leaders can come up with: a "wall of shame" along the Mexican border? A fence to nowhere with funds from nowhere?

Having squandered the opportunity to show true leadership in creating true reform, local governments across the country are again eager to step up to the challenge.

In Long Island, New York, the Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy signed a law this week that requires companies with government contracts to verify their employees are in the United States legally. "If the federal government won't do its job, it's up to the locals," Levy said

In Escondido in San Diego County, California, the City Council passed a housing ordinance that will penalize landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union is already planning a lawsuit to challenge its constitutionality.

Is this what Congress had in mind when they stirred the pot of anti-immigrant sentiment? In a new version of the "trickle-down" effect, local governments and communities are taking steps to deny rights to their neighbors in the community.

But local governments are not the only ones taking up this crusade. Take a look at the growing number of anti-immigrant MySpace Groups to see where some young people are gathering to express their newly-approved hatred of 'illegals'.

Is this the example that our leaders in Washington should be setting? With all the grand-standing and posturing, is it any wonder that a minority has found fuel for their discrimination? Yet in their inability to create an immigration system that protects the rights of immigrants and their families, Congress has left the door for others to fill the vacuum of leadership.