Saturday, June 21, 2008
The undesirables in PLAINFIELD, New Jersey.
Since when searching for a better life is a crime, these Lawmakers are out of humane touch, compassion, and tolerance. Families has been torn apart, kids put in jail, people sedated, people dying on detention centers, U.S. Citizens deported. And know the Lawmakers and society make them unwanted and Undesirables. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is going beyond respect for indivuals rights and humane values.
Hypocrisy, and ignorance are not Humane and family values.!!!
What's next? This must be stop.
Where are those Human rights advocates, United Nations, International Human Rigths, Religions Leaders, Immigration advocates and Leaders. God Bless America... .
A federal lawsuit challenging a landlord's right to rent to illegal immigrants has stoked tensions over immigration that have been rising for years in this diverse city of 50,000 south of Newark.
A anti-illegal immigration group filed suit against a Plainfield-based property management company earlier this month, seeking to set a legal precedent by using anti-mob legislation to crack down on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants
The civil suit alleges the company has so many undocumented tenants in their buildings that it constitutes unlawful harboring, and should be considered by the courts as a criminal enterprise that encourages illegal immigration.
The suit was brought by The Immigration Reform Law Institute - the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform - which previously backed the nation's first anti-illegal immigration ordinances in Hazelton, Pa., and Riverside, N.J. A judge overturned the Hazelton ordinance, ruling it unconstitutional, and Riverside rescinded its ordinance, with officials saying the town could not afford the legal costs of defending it.
Flor Gonzalez, head of the Plainfield-based Latin American Coalition, worries that her city may become the latest battleground in the nationwide debate over immigration. She says the suit comes at a time when tensions over the city's large immigrant population have been rising to a boil, with police ticketing day laborers, a recent spate of beatings and robberies against immigrants, and raids by federal immigration officials.
"This is the worst it's been. There is a lot of unfriendliness and disrespect against immigrants, and a lot has been happening quietly," Gonzalez said. "We need big help in this town."
Plainfield City Council President Harold Gibson said he was unaware of the lawsuit, but that city officials had been trying to address concerns over immigration. He cited as example the city's efforts to find a solution to the day laborer situation that both respects their right to look for work while addressing quality of life concerns.
"I think that the people in Plainfield, in terms of the city council and the general population, they frown on illegal immigration, they don't want undocumented persons living in the town generally speaking," he said. "However, my position is that I don't think we should set ourselves up as an immigration authority in terms of people who come from other countries and work hard to better themselves and help their families."
The Plainfield suit was filed against Connolly Properties on behalf of a former Connolly employee and two tenants who are U.S. citizens. The tenants allege they were steered into buildings occupied by illegal immigrants who were too afraid about their legal status to complain about decrepit conditions, according to Mike Hethmon, a lawyer for the group that filed the suit.
Connolly Properties has at least 45 rental complexes in northern New Jersey and Allentown, Pa.
Ron Simoncini, a spokesman for Connolly Properties, said company officials were bewildered as to why they had been targeted in a federal civil RICO lawsuit. He said he could not comment further before filing a response to the lawsuit.
Hethmon said his group decided to take on the case as part of its strategy of "attrition through enforcement," or urging illegal immigrants to leave the country by making it more difficult for them to find employment and housing in the U.S.
"We have felt for a long time that the racketeering statute would be useful in dealing with situations where businesses and commercial enterprises were heavily involved with illegal immigration," Hethmon said. "We've also felt that individual citizens, communities, neighborhoods and law-abiding small businesses have always needed tools with which they can defend themselves against the harmful affects of illegal immigration."
Using anti-racketeering laws to prosecute landlords is a legal strategy that immigration experts say they expect to be tried in other parts of the nation.
"I think it's a new tactic, because some of the other things haven't worked," said Donald W. Benson, a lawyer with the labor law firm Littler Mendelson, who has been tracking the use of RICO laws in immigration cases. "Congress couldn't reach a consensus to reform the immigration laws, states are trying to fill in the gaps and they're having varied success, and local groups are trying to work through local ordinances, so it's just one part of a much bigger picture of immigration struggles in the U.S."
The Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - or RICO - was designed to prosecute organized crime, and was initially used to go after the Mafia and white-collar criminal syndicates. The law was expanded in 1996 to include immigration-related provisions, making things like human trafficking, harboring and smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. punishable felonies.
Now, lawyers in the Plainfield case - and in a few other cases where employers have been sued under RICO for hiring undocumented workers - are arguing that RICO should be more broadly interpreted to include those who hire or rent housing to illegal immigrants.
Benson said most of the attempts to use RICO in this way have been dismissed by judges in the preliminary stages, but that they were slowly gaining some traction, with one case reaching the settlement stage.
Immigrant advocates in Plainfield said they are concerned that a national anti-illegal immigration group has their city on its radar.
"I have no idea why they picked Plainfield," said Christian Estevez, a member of the Plainfield school board who also sits on Gov. Corzine's Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Policy. "This has caught us by surprise."
Estevez said he and other Plainfield residents are reaching out to national immigration advocacy groups for help.
According to the 2000 census, Plainfield is about 60 percent black, a quarter white and a quarter Hispanic. In the past decade, Gonzalez said there's been a dramatic influx of Hispanic immigrants, mostly from Central America.
Plainfield Mayor Sharon M. Robinson-Briggs said she was not aware of the particulars of the lawsuit, but said immigrants deserved respect, regardless of their status.
"All our residents deserve to be treated fairly and equitably, whether they are born here or not," she said.
Gonzalez, who does not live in a Connolly property, said she was also working to craft a response the suit on behalf of immigrants in Plainfield.
"The people in this town have to understand - I speak with an accent, I think with an accent, and when I tell them my name is Flor Gonzalez, they hear 'Gonzalez' and they assume I'm undocumented," said Gonzalez, who is a legal resident. "You can say anything you want about me, but you'll need to prove it. I don't think they'll be able to win."