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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Where Volleyball Is a Political Football

New York Times writer William Yardley has a great article detailing the escalating tension in between immigrant supporters and political officials in Danbury.

While leaders in some small cities across the country have won political support by taking steps against soaring populations of illegal immigrants, in Danbury some critics say Mr. Boughton, a Republican, has gone too far. Now the latest immigrants in this eternally working-class city are pressing for political respect. And the mayor, while not necessarily in retreat, is trying to repair his links to immigrant groups by meeting with church leaders and march organizers.

"I don't think you're going to hear me saying I'm sorry," the mayor said in an interview at City Hall recently. "I think you're going to hear me say the laws of the United States of America should be enforced."

I think Yardly rasies an excellent point which I think is the real problem...that there are no Latinos on the Common Council

About 12,000 of the city's 75,000 residents are Hispanic, according to the 2000 Census. Yet both the mayor and immigrant leaders say the number of Ecuadoreans has increased significantly since the census, growth driven by economic struggle in Ecuador and an established pipeline into the New York region. Some say the march will announce the political arrival of the newer immigrants. No Brazilians or Hispanics are among the 17 Republicans and 4 Democrats on the Common Council.
The lack of hispanic representation on the town council is a serious problem given that the Hispanics represents 16 percent of the total population (according to the 2000 census). This might also explain how the council was able to draft a "repetitive outdoor activity" ordinance aimed at curbing volleyball games, a popular Ecuadorean sport.