News / USA

Changes in US Town Reflect Easing of Anger Over Illegal Immigration

Changes in US Town Reflect Easing of Anger Over Ilegal Immigrationi
X
April 02, 2013 8:50 PM
The growing power of minority voters in the United States, particularly the Hispanic/Latino vote, has changed the political landscape of the United States. On the national level there is now bipartisan support in Congress for immigration reform. And as VOA’s Brian Padden reports, in a small town in northern Virginia, where a few years ago illegal immigration was a divisive political issue, public anger is fading.
Brian Padden
The growing power of minority voters in the United States, particularly the Hispanic/Latino vote, has changed the political landscape of the United States. On the national level there is now bipartisan support in Congress for immigration reform. And in a small town in northern Virginia, where a few years ago illegal immigration was a divisive political issue, public anger is fading.

Undocumented day laborers from Central America still gather at the 7/11 convenience store in Herndon, Virginia, hoping for work. But since 2006, their numbers have decreased.   

Back then, public anger at illegal immigrants came to a head when the town opened a publicly funded center to get the workers off the street. A local anti-immigrant group called The Minutemen protested the center, photographing and reporting suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities. In 2007, the city council closed the center.

But over time, the number of minority voters, especially Latinos, has grown.  Cesar del Aguila is chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Party, which covers Herndon. He says anti-immigrant zeal has dissipated.

“What you have now versus five years ago, you have people on the town council that understand that diversity is a good thing. It is not something to be feared,” Del Aguila said.

He says Herndon is now considered, in national elections, a Democratic stronghold. But Herndon’s Virginia state delegate, Republican Tom Rust, is also courting the Latino vote, and recently sponsored a bill to allow undocumented immigrants who came when they were children to attend state universities and colleges.

“We do have a large immigrant population in Virginia, a large immigrant population in our population centers. They’re good citizens. They’re good people. They work hard. These kids, through no fault of their own, were brought into the country,” Rust said.

The bill failed because of a lack of Republican support and concerns that a move to legalize undocumented workers would encourage more illegal immigration.

Nearby, in Centerville, a day laborer center that receives no public funding opened in 2011. Most of the men here came to the U.S. alone. Cesar Kolindres from El Salvador says if immigration reform passes, they intend to bring their wives and children.

“One day then, if they make it a reality to have this permit or citizenship or something equal or as good as that, and then we can bring our families and live here in this country,” Kolindres said.

Rust and Herndon’s mayor declined to talk to VOA about the day laborers. Del Aguila says illegal immigration is a national, not a local problem.   

“If you look at the charter of the town council, it is about land use, zoning and budget items. It has nothing to do with expelling people or rounding people up,” Del Aguila said.

While there is growing support for the bipartisan reform proposal in Congress, in Herndon there is concern that a key component of that legislation - giving legal status to millions of undocumented workers - could again spark division.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid