Eminent domain, demographics and immigration policy

On the face of it, you may be wondering what eminent domain, demographics, and immigration policy have to do with each other. A disturbing trend is developing – the prime example is in Morristown, New Jersey, where Mayor Cresitello has been banging the drum to have local police deputized to enforce immigration laws. He blames “illegal immigrants” for crime, quality of life issues (vagrancy, loitering) – all of which adversely affect Morristown in the opinion of the mayor. As reported on August 18, 2006, in the Daily Record:

• On illegal immigrants in town: "I want tomorrow morning a bill passed that provides a pathway to legalization, but not citizenship, since they did jump the borders."
• On redevelopment in town: "It is about future tax needs. It's about rebirth. We need to revitalize the area. We need sources of revenue."
• On empowering some town police to enforce federal immigration laws: "It's intended to deal with felons. ... It absolutely would have prevented the murder of those three children (recently murdered in Newark)."

But this mayor is also aggressively pursuing blighting areas like Speedwell Avenue and Early Street. He is pushing to relocate (at no cost) the residents of these properties to make way for new residential and retail development. As reported in the July 23 issue of the Morris Daily Record:

While the town has several redevelopment projects in the works, the Speedwell Avenue
project is the largest and has the largest number of residents, Cresitello said.

The town is not responsible for relocating residents because there is no local, state or federal money in the project, the mayor said.

The mayor is dead wrong legally on the relocation issue. The law - The Relocation Assistance Act, N.J.S.A. 20:4-1 and the Regulations N.J.A.C. 5:11-1 et seq. - provide relocation assistance to any occupant dislocated as a result of a public project. There are roughly 90 residents in the 12-acre redevelopment area.

Written By:Mindy Fullilove On September 26, 2007 3:30 PM

Today's NY Times talked about an NJ town that reversed its harsh anti-immigrant policies because they were an economic set-back. Worth keeping in mind.

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