LatinaLista -- There was literally a collective sigh heard today around the world when Florida Pastor Terry Jones announced he had "changed" his mind about this weekend's burning of the Quran.
Though legal analysts say Jones was within his First Amendment rights to do such a thing, common sense prevailed that it wasn't the right thing to do.
The same can be said for every anti-immigrant piece of legislation that has been proposed and passed in this nation. Luckily, common sense prevailed today in other places besides Gainesville, Florida.
We can only hope that it's a trend that continues.
For starters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down as unconstitutional the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania's law that would punish landlords and employers who are accused of renting to or hiring anyone the city classifies as an "illegal alien."
The case, Lozano v. Hazleton had been going through the court system for the past four years.
During the trial, Hazleton officials claimed that undocumented immigrants were responsible for bankrupting the city, driving up healthcare costs and increasing local crime. In fact, the evidence at trial showed that from 2000-2005, Latino immigrants actually helped to transform a huge city budget deficit into a surplus, that the private hospital system made a $4 million profit and that the crime rate actually fell.
"The Latino plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit knew this law was intended to drive them out of Hazleton," said Cesar Perales, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. "The court clearly recognized this danger."
Other towns, like Fremont, Nebraska and Summerville, South Carolina that were considering a similar law like Hazelton have scrapped their plans due to either local opposition or the threat of legal pressure.
One town where the City Council members voted their conscience to oppose a similar law was in Tomball, Texas.
Last night, after two hours of very heated debate, the Tomball City Council voted down several anti-immigrant measures which were proposed by the newest elected Council member, Derek Townsend, who had made anti-immigrant legislation his platform. His justification was:
"This is not a race issue for me," Townsend said at the time of the vote. "It's not about race, it's about legalities."
Though it may be legal, it doesn't make it right as many of the townspeople and fellow Council members clearly understood.
Townsend's proposals which included making English the official language, disallowing undocumented immigrants from renting or owning property, or owning a business in the city; mandating that businesses the city contracts with use only legal workers and closing the city's Day Labor Site struck most people as being misguided and punitive.
In an interesting analysis of speakers who opposed or supported the proposed measures, it was found that:
An unofficial tally of those who spoke during the public comment reveals that of the 19 residents of the City of Tomball, 15 expressed their support in keeping the Day Labor Site Open.
Of the 20 non-city residents, 13 asked the council to close the site, with some claiming members of the city government were "communists."
It is a clear sign that the anti-immigrant rhetoric permeating this country is being fueled by those who aren't just racist but from the "communist" comment are as delusional as Pastor Jones.
If Pastor Jones achieved one thing, it was the fact that he was able to open people's eyes as to the level of absurdity and repulsiveness that racism has reached in this country.
It's time more eyes were opened to the true motives of these anti-immigration measures so that common sense can prevail in equally condemning those who are burning, without remorse, the personal dignity and character of a whole group of people.