criminalize to marginalize

Paromita Shah at New America Media via Oneworld:

Immigration reform is dead – at least for the time being – but more raids, detentions and deportations continue.

But we also face a new emerging “deportation” strategy – one from local and state governments that seek to pass laws that essentially “deport” immigrants from the towns and the states in which they live.

The concept is simple: pass laws that make the lives of immigrants so miserable that they will be forced to leave, turning them into internal deportees in the United States.

According to the Washington Post, state and local governments have filed over 1,000 such bills. While most empower local police to act as immigration agents, a significant number obstruct immigrants’ ability to obtain jobs, use necessary medical services, send children to public schools, find housing, get driver’s licenses and receive many other government services. For example, the notorious Hazelton town ordinance required tenants obtain an occupancy permit from the city before renting a unit. One had to prove lawful residence or citizenship to get the permit. The town imposed hefty fines, $1,000, for violation of the ordinance.

The analogy to Jim Crow laws is inescapable. Towns like Hazelton complain of overcrowding, crime and strained resources, much like proponents of Jim Crow laws did when they oppressed and discriminated against African-Americans. Fortunately, late last month, a federal judge declared the Hazelton ordinance unconstitutional because it would have violated due process and interfered with federal law. It also fragmented a community and polarized it along color lines, not immigration ones. The 200-page decision contained excruciating detail about how U.S. citizen Latinos were harassed by Hazelton residents with the introduction of these ordinances.

More here.