Yes, Virginia, there IS a problem, pt 1

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In the vigorous illegal immigration debate that's been going on here the past few days, one of the participants - who apparently hails from an abandoned missile silo somewhere in Nebraska - has been arguing assiduously that the whole notion of 'residential overcrowding' as a community problem is actually a myth propagated by conservatives to deflect public attention from the war in Iraq.

After your guffaws subside, please climb back up on your chair and click on the link below to read the first post on local problems arising from illegal immigration.

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kevin said:

Thanks for those links. Now, if we could find some about actual illegal immigrants overcrowding homes rather than plain old hispanics overcrowding homes (I must admit, I only read most of them so forgive me if there were illegal immigrants mentioned in any of the ones I didn't read).

Houses overcrowded with illegal immigrants could be taken care of pretty quickly, I would think!

Kevin, It's a good question; I'm guessing there is a pretty overwhelming "circumstantial evidence" argument that many of the tenants are here illegally, but firmer evidence would make the case more convincingly.

The people I've spoken with who see a lot of this activity around their homes say there is a direct link (see Amy's post after this one, if you haven't already done so) between the day labor - illegal worker - phenomenon and overcrowded houses in the vicinity.

There is probably some official report to this effect; I'll keep gathering the information and posting it as I find it.

kevin said:

Why isn't immigration pouncing on these homes and deporting them then? (Not meant as an arguing point)

And how in the world does anyone afford to live as a single family in single family homes in NOVA anyways? Goodness. I just saw the headline the other day for an AP story that said DC Metro area is most educated and affluent in the country, study finds. If it's still the same as when I left 12 yrs ago, that doesn't surprise me. Sh#t, I'd probably have to double and triple up if I was living there too. Instead I live in the city with the 2nd highest incidence of violent crime in the country.

"Why isn't immigration pouncing on these homes and deporting them then?"

Well, if you are not already incredibly cynical about your government, the answer to this question will undoubtedly make you so.

Locally, they won't and often can't do it. There is no obligation (often it's illegal) for local law enforcement to share any information with immigration authorities or detain people solely for being in the U.S. illegally. Sheriff Depts and police are under threat of being sued by immigrants-rights advocacy groups (often, publicly funded) so they take a hands off approach whenever possible. That's my impression from talking to people who know this stuff, anyway.

At the federal level, whether we're speaking of Border Patrol, INS, whatever: They don't have money; they don't have time; they don't have manpower; they don't have prison space; and, equally important, they have the Chamber of Commerce and the Bush administration telling them to back off. Again, that's my take, but I think it's semi accurate.

For an eye-opener, read the transcripts of the Judicial Watch forum last month, especially Camarota, Anderson and Bonner.

As to your second point: Yeah, it is expensive here. But what we're talking about locally is a LOT more than doubling or tripling up.

zimzo said:

Thanks for educating me, Joe. All of this just confirms what I feared. I spend a lot of time defending the South and often point out that the reaction to the Chicago Freedom Movement, which fought discriminatory housing practices in the Chicago area, was in many ways more hostile than in the South. Martin Luther King Jr. said after their famous march there in 1966 said that he had "never seen as much hatred and hostility on the part of so many people." And now in this month that we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, I see that the two most important issues to certain Virginians are to keep gay people from marrying their partners and keep Latinos from moving into their neighborhoods. Extraordinary.

It's especially amazing that you put up links to these sites apparently thinking that they had somehow proved your point. First of all, I didn't see anything about 20 people living in a house. But what I did read astounded me. The Manassas city council passed a law defining what constitutes a family! Gee, conservatives are always saying how they want to keep government out of our affairs and act like they have the monopoly on family values:

"The amendment, adopted Dec. 5, defines a family as “two or more persons related to the second degree of collateral consanguinity” plus one non-related person, despite the home’s legal occupancy limit. In many cases, the head of household’s aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews would not be considered family, and, thus, make it illegal for them to reside in the home."

Amazing. One of the complaints I always hear from Latinos about American culture is how we don't seem to be as close to our families as they are. In Latino culture it is typical to live with ones grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Now Manassas has gone ahead and made this against the law! I'm stupefied.

And it is clear that this law has one purpose. It is clearly directed at Latinos in an attempt to drive them out of your neighborhoods. Then I read about how complaints against "overcrowding" are up. Again most of these "complaints" are against Latinos. I guess you are doing a good job of stoking the "flames of discontent." You may want to reach back into not-too-distant Virginia history for some other examples of how to harass and drive people out of your neighborhoods.

But maybe you guys have already gone too far. One Republican seems to be having second thoughts: "Supervisor Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) seemed a little hesitant about the surveillance. 'I’m wondering if we really want to spy on citizens.'"

Since most of this discussion seems to be about Latinos, here are a few statistics about the Latino population: the Latino population of Fairfax County is about 12%, which is less than the national average of 14%. The reason Fairfax County may be having problems with overcrowding is that its population has grown by 25% since 1990 according to the Census Bureau. And, yes, the Latino population grew from about 50,000 to about 100,000 out of one million. Maybe half of them are illegal. I hardly see how this constitutes the emergency you make it out to be. Of course, lost in this discussion is this interesting fact: "Almost 40 percent of Northern Virginia’s foreign born have college degrees; one in six has an advanced degree." I guess they're not only after jobs Americans won't do but also after jobs Americans aren't smart enough to do.

Northern Virginia has undergone extraordinary growth in the last few decades. During that time the disparity in incomes has also grown. But typically for conservatives you would rather scapegoat a group that doesn't have a very strong constituency. Instead of building more affordable housing, putting some limits on sprawl, dealing with the problem of those who don't have health insurance, improving the schools, etc., you seem to find it easier to blame The Other, even if that means passing draconian laws that seem to defy your professed conservative principles.

You were contending that residential overcrowding was a myth; I posted these news and government links simply to establish it's no myth.

You might read some of the other posts on this topic (i.e. parts 2-4). But you know what? I'm going to assume you have, and you've decided all of these local people who say there is such a thing as residential overcrowding are lying.

More on the front page.

zimzo said:

I never said "residential overcrowding is a myth." I said 20 people in a house was a myth: "(I think we can file the 20-in-a-house myth with Reagan's Welfare Queen)" I am planning to read the other posts and look forward to it with great relish.

kevin said:

Thanks for some numbers zimzo. There has been a growth explosion and while I don't take this site as the voice of all NOVAns it seems people are pretty shook up about it.

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