Monday, May 14, 2007

Hightstown, NJ "bring us your weak and weary"

In Hightstown, New Jersey a different experience for immigrants is unfolding. Much of the press in New Jersey regarding immigration policy has been angry superficial rhetoric directed at immigrants, mainly of persons of spanish speaking backgrounds.

But, in Hightstown, lead by its Mayor the town has embraced the mostly spanish speaking newcomers. Because of an unexpected raid on immigrants two years ago by federal agents the 1,300 immigrants in a town of 4,000 residents shied away from reporting crimes and asking for municipal services. The Mayor along with the city council approved a resolution that local officials were forbidden from inquiring into the immigration status of anyone not suspected of a major crime.

The mayor began taking spanish lessons inquiring into the concerns of the spanish speaking residents and has lead to a vibrant community. The community is not without its problems of course, but the decision to embrace the community is an enlightened response compared to other towns, not the least of which is Morristown.

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