Nativist-town, U.S.A.

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The New York Times' Amy Goodnaugh reports from a "fading Florida town" whose mayor came up with a novel idea for a sparking a renaissance—kicking out immigrants.

Avon Park's [proposal] would deny business permits to companies that knowingly hired illegal immigrants. The ordinance, which states that illegal immigration "destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life," would also make English the official language of Avon Park, removing Spanish from all city documents, signs and automated phone messages.

The proposal has some of Avon Park's roughly 8,800 residents exalting, others fuming and still others—including those who rent rooms or apartments in the scruffy Golden Age Villas, west of the abandoned train tracks—plain scared. The City Council passed it 3 to 2 on the first reading and is likely to adopt it July 24.

"We just wouldn't be able to stay here," said Armando Garcia Cortes, 45, who said he came to Avon Park, about 80 miles southeast of Orlando, from Veracruz, Mexico, to pick oranges and fix roofs. "They're going to see the farmworker population here drop. We would all be leaving."

Goodnaugh's story gets across the strong undercurrents of fear from both immigrants and non-immigrants in the town. Talk radio-listening citizens have started fretting about Mexicans going on crime waves; immigrants are fretting about Spanish becoming prohibido in restaurants and on the street. And it was all inspired by the doings in Hazelton, PA.

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  1. As an Avon representative, I want it to know that Avon Park has no relationship with the Avon company.

  2. “Fading” is about right. Avon Park consists pretty much of retirees living in trailer parks, and is being depopulated one funeral at a time. If they really think this is going to encourage growth, they are more delusional than usual. The city should be encouraging immigrants to settle there, not driving them out. Morons.

  3. As an Avon representative, I want it to know that Avon Park has no relationship with the Avon company.

    BWAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH

  4. “As an Avon representative, I want it to know that Avon Park has no relationship with the Avon company.”

    It understands or it gets the hose…

    (what, are you going to tell me next that King Charles and Ray Charles have no relationship to the rock star formerly known as Prince?)

  5. What they need to do next is hand out baseball bats to “civic minded” youths eager to assist in the enforcement of the policy.

    And those really bitchin’ brown shorts, and them over- the- shoulder belts.

    with me most humble happy polly loggies to Senor Godwin

  6. If the pattern holds, someone will come along and chastise you for “conflating immigration with illegal immigration,” because the law ostensibly targets only illegal immigrants.

    But when the town is forbidding Spanish, it isn’t targetting people based on their legal status, but their culture and country of origin.

  7. “If the pattern holds, someone will come along and chastise you for “conflating immigration with illegal immigration,” because the law ostensibly targets only illegal immigrants.”

    Thank you, now I don’t have to say it.

    “But when the town is forbidding Spanish, it isn’t targetting people based on their legal status, but their culture and country of origin.”

    Perhaps, but couldn’t an arguement also be made to say that including a Spanish option allows those (and it is mostly Spanish speaking illegal immigrant who are the most visible and vocal) who break the law to do so more easily.

    Secondly, I have a problem with most government institutions being multilingual, unless they include all languages. So until my grandfather can get Kalmyk language instructions at the Social Security office, I think everyone should learn English.

  8. Tseren,

    Collective punishment is generally frowned up on decent societies. Particularly when based on cultural and ethnic background.

    And I have a problem with government offices not using common sense. 25% of your population speaks Spanish? Print in Spanish? 0.5% of your population speaks Vietnamese? Sorry, Trang, get somebody to read the sign for you.

    Not that hard, really.

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