Originally created 12/26/05

Hispanic immigrants facing new city bans



ATLANTA - Roger Herrera, a Mexican-born permanent resident who works for a mobile home manufacturer, applied last month for a permit to put a mobile home on the land he has owned for more than a decade in Pearson, a town of 1,896 in southeast Georgia.

The application was denied when a city inspector found the 10-year-old structure had bad flooring and ceilings. Soon after, the city council passed a moratorium on bringing mobile homes into city limits.

The council is set to lift that ban at its next meeting, but is replacing it with a measure making it illegal to move into town any mobile homes that are more than 10 years old and a requirement that new mobile home owners make improvements.

"It's not an issue of the city of Pearson against anyone, but we must promote stable residential living," city attorney Jerome Adams said.

But Greg Gore, the man who sold Mr. Herrera the mobile home, and some Hispanic advocates say this is the latest example of a city with a booming Hispanic immigrant population using ordinances as anti-immigrant tools.

"We can't all live in a brick house," said Mr. Gore, who lives in Douglas.

Far from the heated immigration policy debates in Washington or state capitols, new ordinances in rural hamlets such as Pearson have become the front lines of integration for immigrants and Georgia communities.

The main battles are over housing and day laborers.

Advocates protest both predatory landlords who sell or rent substandard structures and city officials who pass ordinances penalizing immigrants.