Friday, April 29, 2005

Connecticut town struggles with Illegal Immigrants

DANBURY, Conn. — This middle-class New England suburb is nowhere near an international border but it still has the illegal immigration problems familiar to cities like San Diego and Tucson, Ariz.

Mayor Mark Boughton (search) blames the government for his town's inability to cope with 15,000 illegal immigrants, approximately 19 percent of the overall population.

"This is one community that has been incredibly stressed by failed federal policy and we need help," said Boughton.

Because the illegal residents aren't counted in the U.S. census, Danbury (search) doesn't receive any federal aid for them.

"In terms of our social services, this presents a tremendous strain, particularly on quality of life of our neighborhoods, our schools our health care system," Boughton said.

Residents complain the influx is killing property values. Homeowner Peter Gadiel said neighbors are fed up. "They're blue collar workers and their whole life savings is tied up in their house and they're seeing their neighborhood being destroyed."

The mayor says he wants state police officers to be deputized as federal immigration officers — giving them access to a federal database and helping them track illegal immigrants. But Connecticut's attorney general said Boughton needs the approval of the governor and others before that can happen.

Boughton has set up a task force to inspect neighborhoods that have received a lot of complaints about buildings housing illegal immigrants. In one home, the task force found 30 cots in the basement, each one being rented for $5 a night.

Hat tip: Darlene at ALIPAC