Wishing to have 'ghost town' back

Posted: August 21, 2006

Below are readers' responses to a "Community Voices" invitation to discuss the impact of illegal immigration on them, and their reactions to articles on a Riverside ordinance that holds businesses and landlords liable for dealing with illegal immigrants.

A second installment of letters on this topic will be published tomorrow.

As a resident of Riverside I applaud Mayor Charles Hilton's stand on illegal immigration. The town is becoming overcrowded.

Ronaldo Empke (Commentary, Aug. 2) said Riverside had been almost a ghost town until the new wave of immigrants. I would like to have the ghost town back.

Traffic has increased immensely, with cars with Pennsylvania plates. Are the drivers of these vehicles legal? Do they have insurance? If they reside in Riverside, why don't they have New Jersey plates?

Yes, this town was settled by immigrants, as Empke stated, but my grandparents and others like them were detained at Ellis Island and checked before being allowed into this country.

If undocumented immigrants are allowed to come here, how do we know whether they are criminals or carrying disease?

With all the attention given to protecting our borders, it bewilders me to find out how easy it is to get into this country.

Charles Connor


Appalling conditions

As a resident of Riverside for more than 12 years, I'm appalled by conditions in the town I have come to consider my home.

What most people fail to recognize is that these individuals are here illegally. They are reaping benefits on the backs of families who reside here legally.

We're not interested in creating a hostile environment for anyone. We are attempting to deal with the situation through proper channels.

We addressed the issues with the Township Council, and it responded with an ordinance that holds landlords and businesses accountable for creating the environment in which these issues have flourished.

Federal laws define those who employ illegal immigrants as criminals, but enforcement has been lax. Riverside has no choice but to protect itself.

There are individuals who claim this is based on racism.

I can tell you the majority of Riverside residents are decent, hardworking people concerned only about the quality of life and the costs associated with the influx of illegal immigrants.

Before you pass judgment on our community, please consider what it would be like to live here yourself.

Gail T. Persichilli

Harsh, unfair laws

Harsh, unfair pieces of legislation such as the ordinances adopted in Hazleton, Pa., and Riverside force businesses and landlords to demand proof of citizenship from people they do business with and, in Hazleton, prohibit city business from being conducted in any language other than English.

Anti-immigrant forces claim the ordinances are necessary because the federal government has not done enough.

But is it necessary to prohibit businesses from providing the most basic items, such as food and clothing? Should Hispanic citizens be subject to daily questioning because they may look like undocumented immigrants?

Immigrants contribute to the economy and cultural diversity of Riverside, Hazleton, and countless other towns. They are part of the fabric of America.

My mother came from Lima, Peru, and worked 14-hour days in a factory in hopes of becoming a citizen. She now votes.

Instead of politicizing immigration, local governments must urge Congress to pass fair and practical reform that ensures hardworking immigrants a path to earned citizenship.

Tony Simone

Deputy director

People for the American Way

Northeast Regional Office

New York

Economic steamroller

Property development is swiftly changing Riverside.

The demolition of the old warehouse structure at Fairview Street and River Road soon will bring a seven-story townhouse-condominium complex with retail space.

In the works is the refitting of the Watchcase building from factory space to townhouses and possible assisted living.

NJ Transit opened its River Line through town.

These are all very convenient happenings for people with a keen eye on property values and money to throw around.

Thank goodness for the immigrants who filled up Riverside storefronts that had sat empty for years. But now the storefronts are in the way of real progress. You can't force them out, so what to do? You eliminate their customer base - in the name of immigration reform and patriotism.

Charlie Silvestri

Vineland, N.J.