O'Hare of the Dog

Categories: Cover Story
Illustration by Craig LaRotonda

The keep-'em-out and send-'em-back movement has been thwarted by a judge in Pennsylvania. The much-discussed law passed by the town of Hazelton last summer and seen as a template for dozens of cities nationwide--including Farmers Branch--was blocked yesterday by a judge just hours before it was to take effect. The measures would have imposed fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, denied business permits to companies that hire them and designated English as the town's official language.

U.S. District Judge James Munley ruled that landlords, tenants and businesses that cater to Hispanics faced "irreparable harm" from the laws and issued a temporary restraining order blocking their enforcement. "We find it in the public interest to protect residents' access to homes, education, jobs and businesses," he wrote in a 13-page opinion. He also said the city council failed to provide factual evidence of the problems it claims are caused by undocumented immigrants.

"Defendant offers only vague generalizations about the crime allegedly caused by illegal immigrants but has nothing concrete to back up these claims," Munley wrote.

Sound familiar? Farmers Branch's Tim O'Hare has drawn similar criticism after proposing measures modeled on Hazelton's.

On the other side of the country, another city is making news with a different sort of measure. Portland, Oregon, agreed to form a task force to examine the barriers faced by immigrants and refugees, such as school dropout rates, discrimination and living-wage issues. Fences or ladders? The debate rages on. --Megan Feldman

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