Immigration Divides Communities in the US and France


An ill-fated, and extremely tough, immigration ordinance has caused ethnic divisions in small-town Hazleton, PA. Mayor Lou Barletta, was proud of the nation's strictest immigration law that punished businesses for hiring undocumented workers as well as landlords who rented to them. The law was ultimately declared unconstitutional in federal court.

Meanwhile in France, businesses and unions are clashing with President Sarkozy over his promise to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants each year. Businesses complain that they are forced to play police, and fire workers they cannot replace. To see what happened this week, read more. This Tuesday, workers went on strike to demand visas. France has responded to labor shortages by identifying which industries have recruitment problems and then issuing temporary visas. But the random issuing of visas offers little security to working immigrants, unsure of their fate.

Both examples demonstrate the divisive impact of immigration policy and rhetoric. Latinos comprise one-third of the population in Hazelton, PA. Thus, Mayor Barletta's harsh words have alienated a large section of his (legal) constituency. In France, it is a matter of business — firms say their survival depends on immigrant labor.

Do immigration politics impact your community? Should governments take a different approach when legitimate economic concerns are involved?

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