|Articles take aim at illegal residents||Sunday, March 26, 2006|
|Lisa Kocian 508-820-4231||Globe West|
An outspoken critic of illegal immigrants in Framingham has taken his crusade
to Town Meeting. Jim Rizoli said that two warrant articles he has
submitted are intended to crack down on illegal immigration.
One of the articles calls for landlords to register apartments with the Board of Health, which would determine how many people can live in each apartment according to local and state regulations. A fine of $300 per day would be imposed on violators. Rizoli said he hopes this will cut down on overcrowded apartments and the noise, trash, and parking problems they can create.
Under the second measure, any new restaurant license would require that the owner not hire anyone who is in the country illegally.
Michael Hugo, chairman of the Board of Health, which would administer the new measures, lashed out at Rizoli, saying he was a "hatemonger."
Although neither article mentions illegal immigrants, Rizoli was open about his intentions, saying both are meant to address what he sees as a growing problem with people in town who are in the country without proper documentation.
"We have an apartment problem in Framingham, too, with overcrowding, pretty much dealing with the illegal immigrants coming here," said Rizoli. "A duplex should hold maybe five people, and they're putting 10 or 20 people in them."
Hugo said there are already regulations in place to address overcrowding. If someone complains about a crowded apartment, a town inspector reviews the situation and reports back to the board, which orders a change if a problem is found, he said.
The board finds apartments that are overcrowded by immigrants and nonimmigrants alike, he said.
Hugo was more critical of the restaurant measure, which he said is also redundant because employers are already required to ask for identification of potential hires.
Rizoli, who was able to get the articles on the ballot after collecting 10 signatures for each, argues that restaurant workers here illegally are more likely to carry diseases. We Americans "pretty much have been tested and come through the school system and have gotten our shots," said Rizoli.
Hugo responded, "It's preposterous . . . It's not a public health issue."
Rizoli is trying to drag local government into the business of enforcing federal immigration laws, which are outside the jurisdiction of any local authority, Hugo charged.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said the measures didn't make sense and were "completely redundant."
"It profiles or targets a community based on the language they might speak," he said.
Both measures are modeled on similar ones in the works in Milford.
If they pass Town Meeting, which starts April 25, they would have to also pass muster with the state attorney general's office before they could go into effect.
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