Group wants city to target ‘illegal
November 25, 2007
ELGIN — Two local men are aiming a spotlight on what they consider a growing problem that must be addressed by city officials.
Elgin has become an attractive destination for illegal immigrants, and the city’s infrastructure is buckling under the influx of people, according to Doug Heaton and David White.
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Doug Heaton (left) and David White are co-directors of the Association for Legal Americans.
“This is the challenge to the elected leaders of Elgin,” Heaton said. “Reduce the 30 percent illegal alien population. Create deterrents against future illegal aliens. Foster assimilation.”
To that end, he and White have asked the city council to implement seven measures they say are legal under federal laws and will help reduce the number of illegal immigrants residing in the city.
“I think that’s what we’re trying to do, is set up a deterrent that (Elgin is) not a place to relocate,” Heaton said.
As drafted by the two men, the seven ordinances they want implemented are:
• “We need immigration screening of all persons booked in the Elgin city jail and keep records of how many illegal aliens are arrested each month.”
• “Social Security card verifications should be made everywhere it’s legal. Thousands of illegal aliens are here using stolen identities.”
• “We need Elgin police to apply for immigration training through the 287 (g) program. This training gives our police officers the power of Federal Immigration Agents.”
• “Elgin police must apply for a CAP (criminal alien program) officer on a permanent basis to identify criminal aliens incarcerated who are subject to deportation.”
• “City ordinance to tow and fine for no vehicle liability insurance.”
• “English should be Elgin’s official language.”
• “City of Elgin will not do business with anyone who hires illegal aliens.”
In an e-mail query sent Nov. 16, The Courier News asked Mayor Ed Schock and all city council members to respond to these seven suggestions. The newspaper will publish their answers in a future story, and also a more in-depth explanation of the seven points.
Heaton and White have formed an organization called the Association for Legal Americans. Their Web site, http://www.legalamericans.net, went live a few weeks ago, and the two men have been collecting petitions from area residents.The postcard-size petition seeks volunteers to “build a strong base against illegal immigration,” and solicits donation money.
White, a retired businessman and lifelong Elgin resident, said they have received more than 1,000 responses so far.
“Over a period of time, I realized what the transition to Elgin’s look was, in respect to the culture and the way it was changing,” he said. “It was over a gradual period of time that I started getting involved and looking at the statistics and all of a sudden it just opened my eyes to what was going on in Elgin.”
What was going on, according to White, was a population increasing too fast for city services — including local hospital emergency rooms, schools and police — to handle.
“This country and this city cannot continue to take on this volume of people, and have the homeowner the one who has to pay,” he said.
Heaton, a 20-year Elgin resident and Elgin School District U46 Board member, said he and others have “compassion fatigue.”
“The problem’s just gotten so huge, you know. For years and years we’ve accommodated, and we don’t see anything but just a more vocal demand for things,” he said. “Compassion fatigue, I guess, is the best way to put it.”
For Heaton, this fatigue has set in over time. Protest marches in May 2006, in which immigrants across the country rallied in opposition to proposed federal legislation that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally, set Heaton off.
“It just angered me,” he said. “I dug into facts and figures to try and figure out how we got here.”
Heaton began to research what local measures could be enforced because, he said, the federal government was not addressing the issue.
“The rubber meets the road here in Elgin where we have to take care of their health care, have to provide schools for them, we have to put up with the crowding issue,” Heaton said of those who have entered the country illegally.
Heaton said he lived in Peru for two years and speaks Spanish, and that “it’s really kind of hard to target Hispanics” because they are great people.
“But it doesn’t hide the fact that they’re here illegally. It’s a burden on our society that shouldn’t be there.”