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September 21, 2007

Division and Dislocation: Regulating Immigration through Local Housing Ordinances

The last two years have seen an intensified public debate over the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States. However, Congress and the White House have repeatedly failed to enact immigration reform legislation that might effectively address the problem of undocumented immigration. This inaction by the federal government has led to heightened frustration at the local level. One way in which some policymakers and activists have expressed this frustration is through support for ordinances that target undocumented immigrants. As of March 10, 2007, such ordinances had been proposed, debated, or adopted in at least 104 cities and counties in 28 states. These ordinances encompass a number of measures-most notably prohibitions on renting to or employing undocumented immigrants and the adoption of English as the official language of the local government. Forty-three of the 104 localities have debated or passed rental restrictions alone or as part of broader ordinances.

AILF's Immigration Policy Center recently published a study of housing ordinances. Author Jill Esbenshade, Associate Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, found that:

• Over 40 percent of the households targeted by local ordinances include children and almost one-third include U.S.-citizen children
• Contrary to popular belief, ordinance initiatives are not correlated with the size of a locality's foreign-born or Latino population, but instead is related to a rapid increase in the foreign-born or Latino share of the population
• Ordinances are not correlated with high local unemployment rates. Around two-thirds of ordinance locales (68 percent) had unemployment rates at or below the national average in 2000, as did 64 percent of the 25 largest localities in 2005 for which unemployment data was available.

The study is entitled Division and Dislocation: Regulating Immigration through Local Housing Ordinances. A summary is available on the IPC website; http://www.ailf.org/ipc/special_report/SpecialReport0907.pdf

Posted by VisaLawyer at September 21, 2007 06:34 AM

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