Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Town of Immigrants Now Accused of Bias It Shuts Doors to Hispanics, Critics Charge

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Town of Immigrants Now Accused of Bias It Shuts Doors to Hispanics, Critics Charge

Article excerpt

The Germans came, the Greeks came, the Italians came, the Poles came.

Generations of immigrants followed the lure of steady jobs to this factory town of 32,000 people on Salt Creek. Wages from the assembly line paid the rent at first, and later, the mortgage on the ranches, split-levels and salt boxes near the industrial parks.

For 15 years the Mexicans took their turn, passing word to friends and family back home that there were plastic bags and compact-disc boxes to be made, punch presses to operate, cartons to pack.

But the Hispanics - unlike the others - are beginning to feel distinctly unwelcome. Addison has been accused in a class-action suit and by the Justice Department of trying to bulldoze its Hispanics out of town.

Citing urban blight, the village government plans to raze small apartment complexes in the two neighborhoods where poor newcomers tend to land first. These happen to be the two most heavily Hispanic sections.

The decision has enmeshed Addison in an uproar touching some of the nation's most exposed nerves: race, immigration, property values and the rights of local government. "This is Mexican removal, not urban renewal," says Matthew Piers, a lawyer representing the residents in the suit.

Village President Larry Hartwig, who denies ethnic bias, says the Justice Department is fighting, through the courts, for "a housing affirmative action program to be imposed on local government throughout the country."

The case is the most dramatic of four recently brought by U.S. authorities against municipalities that allegedly used the tools of government to, in effect, discriminate against Hispanics:

Wildwood, N.J., a beach resort, agreed last September to pay $75,000 in damages and to change its stringent limits on the number of occupants in a home, after the Justice Department sued the city for violating the Fair Housing Act.

In Cicero, Ill., real estate agents said their lucrative business selling homes to Hispanics slowed to a standstill after the town passed a similar ordinance - which did not affect the predominantly Anglo population that had bought houses in the past. The Justice Department sued.

Hatch, N. …

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