May 13, 2008
What's the matter with Dallas suburbs?

Farmers Branch. Irving. Now Carrolton.

A newly elected mayor near Dallas says his top priority will be ridding his suburb of illegal immigrants, the same focus that has drawn national attention in a neighboring city.

But Ron Branson said Carrollton will not simply copy the blueprint of Farmers Branch, where an ordinance barring apartment rentals to most illegal immigrants has been put on hold by a federal judge.

"I do not want to rubber-stamp what they did," Branson said in today's editions of The Dallas Morning News. "We want to make sure we're not profiling, we're following the law, and take advantage of ordinance opportunities."

The victory by Branson in Saturday's election gives Dallas neighboring suburbs with mayors who share a common goal of driving out illegal immigrants in their cities.

Is there something in the water up there? I just don't understand the obsession with this issue. And I know it's all tied up in anxiety about the war and the economy, because we had about the same number of undocumented immigrants in 2004 and 2005, back when the nation was still obsessed with gay marriage. But that "issue" ran its course, and we needed some other scapegoat for these more uncertain times, and so here we are, at least until the next batch of undesireables come along.

I hope some economist or sociologist is keeping track of these immigrant-hostile towns and doing a study on how they fare in the wake of these policies. It seems likely to me that their immediate effect will be to make their demographics older and whiter, as non-immigrant Hispanics who rightly perceive these policies to be threatening to themselves leave along with the undocumented folks that they hope to drive out. That doesn't strike me as being a good thing for the local economies, but who knows, maybe they'll draw new white-flight residents to counterbalance that. Like I said, I hope someone is studying this to see what happens with these places.

It should be noted that even though the anti-immigrant candidate won in Carrolton, it wasn't necessarily about that issue.

[Carrolton Mayor Becky] Miller had led by 9 percentage points in early voting, but those ballots were cast at least a day before a Dallas Morning News story delved into her background. She wound up losing by 9 percentage points.


Mrs. Miller had accused Mr. Branson of "dirty politics" for questioning her statements to colleagues that her brother died in Vietnam.

The mayor, who is white, gave Mr. Branson a soldier's name, but a check showed the young man was black and had been born within four months of her, so he couldn't have been her brother.

Mrs. Miller later said she deliberately misled Mr. Branson out of anger over his prying.

After her father said there was no brother who had died in Vietnam, she said her father has Alzheimer's disease. Later, she said the "brother" was actually an unrelated young man raised by her family. She declined to provide his name, citing painful circumstances.

Checks then raised questions about Mrs. Miller's statements that she sang professionally for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, had ties to the Eagles frontman Don Henley and attended Western Kentucky University.

Spokesmen said the three singers didn't know her, and a Western Kentucky official said the school had no record of her attendance there.

Mrs. Miller has since said she's not surprised the singers didn't remember her after 30 years. She insists that she did attend the college briefly.

Uh, yeah, sure. If you haven't figured out by now that being a public official with a phony resume is a recipe for disaster, I will have no sympathy for you when you lose. Even if it's to a xenophobe.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 13, 2008 to National news

I know! We'll go after the gay illegal immigrants who want to marry!

Posted by: Michael on May 13, 2008 7:35 AM

Voters educated me about immigration last cycle. I dismissed their pleas for relief before I started running for Congress, then I began to listen to their stories.

In construction, hotels, restaurant kitchens -- any job that doesn't come into contact with the general public -- average Americans found it hard to fit in. They considered themselves strangers in their own home. Some even told me stories about being fired for not knowing Spanish.

These voters feel betrayed. The federal government -- under Republicans and Democrats -- have shipped jobs overseas, destroyed any sense of workplace security and generally ignored the needs of working people. Illegal immigration is the most visible sign of a broken federal government.

Now, here's the difference between Republicans and Democrats--Republicans broke the government on purpose. Ronald Reagan made the promise, "Government isn't the solution to our problem. Government is the problem." George Bush kept that promise.

Now, ask yourself, "Who doesn't want to enforce existing law?" Big Business. The current illegal immigration system works against both the immigrants and American workers.

Big business wants "comprehensive reform" that includes a guest worker program. A guest worker program would privatizes America's immigration policy, allowing large businesses to bring in, and kick out, immigrants based on their profits. Instead of melting into American society these "guest workers" will remain isolated in ghettos, never learning English, never living the American dream.

The guest worker program also turns "outsourcing" on its head. Instead of shipping American jobs overseas, the "guest worker" program will import large numbers of cheap, exploitable labor.

Democrats have to promise to be different. We have to return to our values. We have to build a solid foundation for the American dream. Fixing immigration requires enforcing workplace laws. These laws--including immigration laws--were meant to protect American workers.

Fixing the immigration system is essential. Our strength as a nation has always depended upon our ability to come together. We need an immigration system that welcomes legal immigrants and helps them establish a stable, productive future in this country.

Posted by: Glenn Melancon on May 13, 2008 8:32 AM

It's not all bad news. In Lewisville, voters rejected an anti-immigrant city council candidate in favor of a more moderate incumbent by 22 points.

Posted by: WhosPlayin on May 13, 2008 12:17 PM

I'm confused. Was the U.S. constitution recently amended and I didn't hear about it?

What provision of our constitution gives states or, by extension, local governments authority over immigration policy? Cities can't enter into treaties, print currency, raise a standing army - or regulate immigration. That is a federal responsibility - as I'm sure a federal judge will point out, sooner or later.

Posted by: Dennis on May 13, 2008 3:19 PM

It is not an issue about being racist, getting rid of undesirables, or whatnot. It is a matter of fairness and following the law. I have dozens of friends who all legally immigrated here from india/middle east/africa... and this issue is bigger with them than it is to me. Illegal immigration really ruffles their feathers. If those who come legally should have to go through some long process and pay so much money to get the legal paperwork done to stay here, it is not fair to allow the illegal immigrants to forgo all that. many more reasons regarding taxes/insurance/healthcare and so forth - but there is nothing 'xenophobic' about it.

Posted by: JZ on May 13, 2008 3:56 PM