The immigration debate: Carpentersville, IL setting its stage
Carpentersville, IL Once a small rural community which was home to several low-income neighborhoods, (98% of homes in the 1990 census were valued between $50,000.00 and $99,000.00. and the median home value was $76,000.00, and whose housing occupants were 88% white in 1990) has just belly flopped its way into the immigration debate.
Today, Carpentersville is known for its new developments and one can even find homes in excess of a million dollars. While the population has not tripled the amount of housing has tripled since 1990 and Carpentersville is now home to a 40+ percent Hispanic population.
Village trustees have proposed a local ordinance that would make it a punishable offense to hire or even do business with illegal immigrants or rent housing to illegal immigrants. Violating the ordinance could cost business owners their business license and landlords would be fined $1,000.00. In addition, it makes English the official language of Carpentersville.
The ordinance the way it is could take the business license of a major franchise away for selling a hamburger or drink to an illegal alien.
“Would you like fries with that?….. That will be $5.50 and we will need to see your passport, green card or birth certificate, please pull around to the first window”
Reasons for the ordinance can be found within the ordinance itself : “illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates, contributes to overcrowded housing, and failing schools, subjects our village to fiscal hardship….and diminishes our overall quality of life.”
Furthermore in e-mail correspondence between myself and Ms. Judy Sigwalt, a Carpentersville Village Trustee, when asked what prompted the ordinance, Ms. Sigwalt said:
“ What prompted the ordinance is the fact that the average American citizen can’t afford to foot the bills for all the free services that illegal people are getting. The rising costs of police, fire, public works, etc. all the departments it takes to run a village are costing more and more and we want everyone to pay there fair share. Education is another area where there is suffering going on…over crowded class rooms, American collage kids can’t afford tuition nor can their parents yet illegals are being schooled for free. The list goes on and on.”
Being the daughter of legal immigrants who had both entered this country legally and became citizens I can understand both sides of this issue, as legal immigrants usually end up having illegal immigrant friends. On one hand, my parents came here legally, why shouldn’t anyone else? On the other hand, I also realize that immigration laws are stricter than they once were and in the past 15 years it has become difficult for even a sibling of a citizen to get citizenship. I know this well with trying to get my mothers family papers to stay in the country while a war was raging in Bosnia.
However, I also know that illegal immigrants work hard. I remember when I was a child and the company my father worked for used to employ (unbeknownst to them) illegal immigrants, mostly of hispanic and polish desent. They all had social security cards, they just weren’t their own social security numbers. They paid taxes like my father did. They paid rent to a landlord that paid county taxes or owned homes and paid property taxes that paid for all the departments it takes to run a village. Those same people when they lost their job didn’t go get unemployment like the rest of us. Those same people won’t be collecting the social security that is really owed them. Those same people do jobs that most of us wouldn’t do. Those same people keep this economy stable.
Now, as to to the quality of education issue. It is no secret that district 300 has suffered all around. Neighboring communities have also seen a decline in quality of education due to the major growth spurt and lack of planning for the future by these villages, not to mention the gross mismanagement of funds earmarked for district 300.
It’s not that I don’t agree with immigration reform, it is that I believe that there are better ways of achieving it. I believe this country is better off for having these immigrant workers and I believe we should be working on a way to give them immigrant status, without giving them citizenship.
I believe that Carpentersville, like most other cities, is allready equiped with an ordinance that would allow them to crackdown on overcrowding and making sure that county tax fraud is not taking place and that is by cracking down on the occupancy codes.