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Racial engineering, the type that hasn’t been seen in a while: the NY Times reports on a Gypsy family, removed from their homes due to threats of violence from their community in Slovenia, who have not been allowed to return:

The group, an extended family of 31 people, tried to return to Ambrus, a village 30 miles southeast of Ljubljana, after four weeks in a refugee center. But about 1,000 villagers and other residents of the area assembled, blocked roads leading to the village and then battled riot police officers. Officials then persuaded the family, the Strojans, to turn back. …

The government said it was justified in moving the family to the refugee center, saying that it had acted to protect the Strojans. But human rights groups contend that ministers sanctioned the mob’s ouster of members of a minority group from their homes. The government had promised to resettle the group, but a plan to move them to a suburb of Ljubljana, the capital, foundered when residents there protested.

An actual immigration bill? The Boston Globe‘s Rick Klein says that, despite expectations that the Democratic majority in Congress will ignore the issue, sensible reform may be more possible than ever.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who is set to take the chairmanship of the subcommittee that oversees immigration issues, has already met with leading Republicans — including Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican — to begin crafting a new bill early next year. “The dynamics are right,” said Kennedy, who worked closely with McCain and others on the immigration bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. “With a new Congress, we have an opportunity to pass our plan to secure our borders, uphold our laws, and strengthen our economy.”

Perhaps even more important, Republicans have moved more moderate voices into positions that signal a shift against the hardline attitude on immigration.

In a signal of the Republican Party’s shifting stance on the issue, the Republican National Committee will be now headed by Senator Mel Martinez of Florida — a Cuban immigrant who is a strong backer of the comprehensive bill passed by the Senate.

Sanctuary has been as contraversial as municipalities passing and enforcing their own immigration laws.  The LA Times covers threats that have emerged to its continuation.

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Another thought after the 60 Minutes piece: if New Paltz and San Francisco cannot offer same-sex marriages, how can Hazelton legislate immigration?

Now, I’m not saying that if one is allowed, the other must be as well. What I am saying is that the US Constitution–both written and understood–gives no autonomy to municipalities and other public corporations. Only the states are recognized, and they determined what autonomy cities and town enjoy.

This point may seem arcane, but it is relevant. Consider that medieval cities had broad leeway to define who was a citizen–indeed, out notion of citizenship descends therefrom (if we believe Guizot). In modern times, some form of municipal sovereignty remains. In France, the cities are more powerful policy makers (and mayors have been an important sources of presidential candidates). In Switzerland, the residents of cities and towns get to vote on who will be allowed permanently into the community, a necessary prerequisite to obtaining Swiss citizenship. (Unfairly, pictures of candidates are posted on the ballot, and “colored” people are denied citizenship more often than Europeans.)

Considering the critical importance of sovereignty and the relationship of the national government to the states, their silence is profound. They saw no need to enshrine municipalities with policy making abilities, especially those reserved for the national government.

So, what gives Hazelton (or Farmers Branch or any other town) the constitutional right to enact legislation that hangs on issues of citizenship and nationality (and I do mean constitutional)?

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