Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Immigrants gone, but at what cost?

When this town passed a law to crack down on illegal immigrants, thousands of immigrants, mostly Brazilians, left town. Now most of the businesses are suffering, many have closed. The immigrants spent their money in the town and now they are missed. DP

Riverside deals with law of unintended consequences.

By Jennifer Moroz, Inquirer Staff Writer In the darkened space still labeled Classroom 2, the desks are gone.

All that's left are a few forgotten pens, some abandoned posters. One titled "Antonyms" contrasts day and night using cartoon illustrations of a sun and moon. Another sign reminds students, in Portuguese, that they are lucky to be studying in one of Riverside's most treasured historic buildings, so please don't write on the walls.

Just a few months ago, there were students in class to read them. Every week, hundreds flocked here, to the second floor of the old Watch Case Tower, to take English lessons at the Harvest Institute.

But a lot has changed in Riverside since local officials passed a controversial ordinance last summer to help deal with - some say crack down on - the thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Brazilians, who have flooded in and around this Burlington County town of 8,000 over the last six or seven years.

Because the law, which bans hiring or renting housing to illegals, is being challenged in state and federal court, it is not being enforced. But even so, the sentiment behind it and uproar surrounding it have been enough to chase out many of the Brazilians.

"They're scared," said Ricelle Martins, a Brazilian who manages the Race Track Cafe in Riverside. "They're moving... anywhere they can."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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