La Opinión, Editorial, Staff
The new city law, approved on Monday, aims to prevent undocumented immigrants from being able to rent housing and be hired, especially in the local meat processing industry. Fremont is a town of nearly 25,000 residents that has seen its Latino community grow from 165 to over 2,000 in 20 years, due in large part by work available in the meat packing plants.
The motivation underlying the measure is well known: frustration with the federal government over what is considered a failure to control immigration. Fremont, like other cities such as Hazelton (Pennsylvania) and Framers Branch (Texas), believes that its frustration is reason enough to take the law into its own hands and draft its own immigration policy. Judges subsequently struck down the ordinances in the other two cities, as we expect will also happen in this case.
One of the arguments in favor of the ban on hiring was that the undocumented have supposedly been taking away jobs, but the unemployment rate is just 4.9 percent, far below the national rate of 9.7 percent. The vote actually seems to reflect the anxiety over demographic changes which has been channeled into the vilification of the undocumented. Such an environment inevitably harms Latinos, documented or not, since their legal standing will be suspect and they will be victims of racial profiling.
We have repeatedly said that frustration with immigration policy should be expressed by pressuring federal lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Local ordinances have proven a futile way to achieve this goal and only result in creating more resentment and division in the cities.