California City May Bar Illegal Immigrants From Renting

Local authorities in this California city are set to vote on a controversial measure on Wednesday to prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, a law opponents say is racist.

The city is the latest of several from California to Pennsylvania which have passed laws in recent months to deny access to housing or jobs to illegal immigrants in their communities.

Lawmakers in Escondido, which lies about 50 miles north of the Mexican border near San Diego, provisionally passed the measure by a 3-2 margin earlier this month following a heated debate that was interrupted by shouts and catcalls.

If approved on Wednesday it would come into effect in 30 days in the community of 140,000 residents, where more than a third of the population is Hispanic.

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Police and sheriff’s department officers turned out to keep the peace on the first vote two weeks ago, when boisterous supporters and opponents of the bill squared off outside city hall, although no arrests were made.

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The ordinance would require landlords to hand over documentation on their tenants’ immigration status to city authorities and evict illegal immigrant tenants or face penalties including suspension of their business licenses and fines.

If the measure is approved on Wednesday, as seems likely, the California city will join others including Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Riverside, New Jersey, which passed bylaws to curb illegal immigration in recent months.

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“Immigration is an issue for the federal government to address, not for local authorities,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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