- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2006

With an open-borders Democratic majority poised to take control of both houses of Congress and an amnesty-sympathetic President Bush still in office, we will be hearing more from cities and towns like Farmers Branch, Texas, and Hazelton, Pa. Their message: If the federal government can’t fulfill its border-control responsibilities, we’ll take it upon ourselves at the local level.

The city council of Farmers Branch, a Dallas suburb of 27,000, voted 6-0 this week to institute fines for landlords who rent to illegal aliens and to allow immigration-status screening of suspects in police custody. The council also made English the city’s official language.

This follows last month’s move by the Hazelton, Pa., city council to impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal aliens and to deny business permits to employers who hire them. Last month, U.S. District Judge James Munley blocked the ordinances with a temporary restraining order. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Hazelton, arguing that the federal government’s regulatory powers on immigration are exclusive — as, by the letter of the law, they are.

Of course, that’s precisely the point. City officials, and border-control and law-and-order activists are trying to demonstrate their frustration with lax federal enforcement. The federal government doesn’t even come close to enforcing the letter of immigration law. Cities and towns feel compelled to pick up the slack.

This trend will only grow as Mr. Bush and a Democratic Congress draw a “comprehensive” immigration bill nearer to passage. The legislation nearly passed a Republican Congress earlier this fall. It is only likelier to pass once Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and their liberal Democratic friends start pulling the levers of power in the House and Senate.

The urge to find local solutions to a national problem is not new. Last year, police in New Ipswich and Hudson, N.H., began arresting illegal aliens and charging them with trespassing on the rationale that being present in the United States illegally necessarily entails trespassing on town soil illegally as well. A state judge threw out the charges on the grounds that immigration enforcement is a federal-government sphere.

There’s an emerging pattern here: Local communities act where the federal government has failed, a judge throws the actions out as unconstitutional and Congress continues to move in the wrong direction. There will be plenty of frustration to go around.


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