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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Haven launches illegal immigrant ID card program

Has the Mayor put the welcome mat out?

You can find this story everywhere in the Connecticut media, but it's interesting to see the view from abroad, in this case the BBC no less:

A city in Connecticut has become the first in the United States to issue identity cards to illegal immigrants.

New Haven - best known as the home of Yale University - is offering the cards to all its residents, including to some 12,000 undocumented immigrants.

City leaders say the plan will enable immigrants to open bank accounts and make them less vulnerable to crime....

But opponents said the move would encourage illegal immigration.

Bill Farrel, of Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform, said: "It's going to be a welcome mat for illegal aliens to come to the region, flood the labour market and dry up working-class and middle-class jobs."

BBC Americas editor Will Grant says the controversial move stands in stark contrast to the approach towards illegal immigrants adopted in other parts of the US.

New laws and proposals in more than 90 cities or counties across the country include prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and penalising firms that employ them....

Are there really 12,000 undocumented immigrants in New Haven, a city which ostensibly has a population of only 124,000?

It's this kind of cold, hard number that bothers people, something which IMHO the political leaders of both parties don't understand. In my experience of half a lifetime, most people bear no ill will towards immigrants - especially in Connecticut, where so many of us have immigrant roots through grandparents who arrived between 1890 and 1930. But many people who are not xenophobic or racist feel that society is being completely made over without anyone even asking them for their opinion. Lawmakers castigate the people for being concerned about the lack of security, increase in crime and education costs and so on and so on.

And we may wonder why it is in Connecticut that a city feels compelled to thumb its nose at the Federal government and create a potential magnet for lawlessness.

Will lawlessness breeds lawlessness? Witness New York City's possible issuance of New Haven-style IDs.

Photo by Vanessa Hamtaro, some rights reserved CC2.0.

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