Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Illegal Residents to Feel State Crackdown; Many Local Officials Are Working to Curb Unlawful Immigrant Housing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Illegal Residents to Feel State Crackdown; Many Local Officials Are Working to Curb Unlawful Immigrant Housing

Article excerpt

Byline: VICKY ECKENRODE

A measure addressing illegal immigration was one of the most debated laws the General Assembly passed this year. But the issue is far from settled as local governments and state lawmakers continue to pitch more enforcement ideas.

In anticipation of the upcoming session, legislators already have pre-filed a bill to deny illegal immigrants property tax exemptions.

And now local governments are weighing their own options for cracking down through housing ordinances.

Cherokee County's commission is expected to be the first in the state to vote on a measure holding landlords accountable for renting or leasing to illegal immigrants. The board, which recently heard impassioned arguments from residents on both sides of the issue, is planning to vote on the ordinance next week.

"It brings up the whole notion of enforcement and how they would be able to tell real versus fake documents," said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, who is lobbying the county to drop the proposal. "Landlords aren't in the business to be looking at immigration documents. The training would be costly for local municipalities to do."

Local governments around the country are starting to pass similar ordinances as illegal immigration remains a leading political issue and Congress has been unable to agree on a compromise for federal reform.

"[The issue of] who they can lease to is something unique to the country right now," said Al Outland, director of policy and communications for the Georgia Municipal Association, which represents city governments.

The city of Hazleton, Pa., has received national attention for passing a law that would impose fines on landlords renting to people in the country illegally. The city also could revoke the business license of employers hiring undocumented workers.

Hazleton ordinances, as well as similar ones passed in other states, are being challenged in court now. …

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