• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Staying Home to Dodge La Migra

Daniela Gerson

Larger view
Lilian Aguirre cuts hair at International Salon
(Will Pedigo)
Enlarge This Image

Immigration enforcement used to be a job reserved for the federal government. But increasingly, scores of local law enforcement agencies across the country don't think Washington is doing enough. The sheriff's department in Nashville, Tenn., was among the first to take on immigration enforcement, and now deportations are way up. Reporter Daniela Gerson explores how this program's success has triggered fear among immigrants, and why some say it's making the city less safe.


It's Friday night and Edmundo enters the International Hair Salon with a pocketful of cash. For reasons that will become clear, Edmundo didn't want his last name used. The Mexican immigrant came to Nashville two years ago, got a job installing air conditioners and joined the enormous foreign influx that transformed the city.

When Edmundo is ready to party, he doesn't head to any honky tonk country bars or bluegrass hoedowns. For the single and handsome Edmundo, Friday nights have meant hitting a salsa club. "Get ready, change your clothes," he says. "Hang out with your friends, bunch of bars in Nashville, Coco Loco, three or four night clubs, where you can go dancing, drink something."

Edmundo reclines in his favorite barber's chair as a single blade scrapes down his throat. He likes to come here after work to get a shave and a haircut before the weekend's festivities get started. So what are his plans?

"Um, nothing, probably stay home, watch TV with my niece -- and that's it," he says. "I don't have a driver license and I don't want to put myself in trouble. So..."

Edmundo doesn't have a driver's license because he's an illegal immigrant. It used to be that Tennessee was far enough from the border that nobody worried too much about immigration status. Not anymore. Just over a year ago, the Davidson County Sheriff's Department entered into a new agreement with the Department of Homeland Security, enabling local deputies to identify and process arrested immigrants.

The results have been dramatic: Arrests flagged for immigration violations have shot up 20 times, from 150 to nearly 3,000 a year. Sheriff Daron Hall says the program is highly popular, and hundreds of colleagues from around the country have called him requesting advice.

"The point is, the public at large, I believe, don't like the fact that people continue to violate the law and are in our country illegally," Hall says. "That's been shown in just about any conversation you'll have. How and where that line is, I understand there's a debate about that."

There's even debate within the police force. On Friday evening, Officer Richard Bain sits in his police car, patrolling the immigrant neighborhood of small family homes bordering the barber shop. An 18-year veteran of the force, Bain refuses to speak in the microphone. But he has a lot to report. Illegals are fleeing the scene of car accidents, they're not willing to cooperate when he comes to investigate and victims are afraid to report abuse. In his opinion, he could do his job better if immigration was left to the feds.

A few hours later, it's well into the evening at one of Edmundo's favorite salsa clubs, Coco Loco. A festive palm tree sways over the bar. A full band is up on stage, trying to rally the club's Hispanic patrons with a dose of national pride. But it's having little success.

The club is half empty and the crowd is on the paler end of the spectrum. Santos Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican transplant from New York to Nashville, says business is awful.

What's missing? Hispanics, he says. "There's no doubt, we've lost 40 percent of our business." Gonzalez speaks outside of the club, watching the trickle of patrons enter the door. "They're afraid to come out pretty much every night. I've heard that people are just going to work and they're not even going out to the restaurants."

Gonzalez is struggling to keep his business open, and he's not the only one. The Nashville-area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce reports that Latino nightclubs and restaurants across the city are staying open fewer hours, taking items off the menu and laying people off.

Comments

  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Sonia santiago

    From El Paso, TX, 05/16/2008

    I am an American citizen (Born and raised, and not of Mexican descent) living in Mexico for over 7 years. I find it offensive and extremely sad that we (Americans) continue to be so darn IGNORANT. I am referring to one specific comment made by Needle4JoseMedellin8 regarding getting 10 year olds pregnant. Mexico is more civilized than you make it out to be BELEIVE IT OR NOT. As far as I CAN TELL living here, and able to compare after myself living in New York and Texas ALL OF MY LIFE, family is more integrated and the role of mother is still one very much venetared and taken seriously. The problem of illegal immegration doesnt relate directly to other SOCIAL problems that exist IN EVERY society. Lets not get into the atrocities that occur in American society on a daily basis by regular LEGAL Americans. Is it o.k. to molest young children in the US because you are an American citizen? Mexicans tolerate that just as much as American Citizens do. Keep the subject focused without insulting the values of the Mexican family.

    By Marc Naimark

    From Paris, YT, 05/16/2008

    Now that the illegal immigrants are all hiding out at home, perhaps the Nashville police can turn their attention to those who employ these illegal aliens and create the problem in the first place. Somehow I think the powers that be in Nashville would not be so keen to see that sort of law enforcement.

    By Mike North

    From Chicago, IL, 05/12/2008

    "Why is it that we have to hear the sob stories about the profiteers of illegal immigration whining that their business is down due to stepped up immigration enforcmement?"

    Why you ask? Well, since the mainstream media has to follow the dictates of their corporate masters & they're usually brain dead leftist ideologues to begin with, it's their only defense of the un-defensible. They make up sob stories using dishonest rhetoric, propaganda & outright lies in order to push their agenda

    By legalatina legalatina

    From GA, 05/12/2008

    Why is it that we have to hear the sob stories about the profiteers of illegal immigration whining that their business is down due to stepped up immigration enforcmement? Who cares if these sleazy businesses cropping up to make a buck from illegal aliens go under? Good riddance. Let's get some honest business people and patronize them.

    By Mike North

    From Chicago, IL, 05/12/2008

    Let's change this from the dishonest steaming pile it is to the truth...

    It's Friday night and Edmundo enters the International Hair Salon with a pocketful of illicitly gained cash. For reasons that will become clear, Edmundo didn't want his last name used. The Mexican illegal alien came to Nashville two years ago, got a job installing air conditioners from a corrupt business and joined the enormous foreign invasion of illegal aliens that transformed the city.

    When Edmundo is ready to party, he doesn't head to any honky tonk country bars or bluegrass hoedowns. For the single and handsome Edmundo, Friday nights have meant hitting a salsa club. "Get ready, change your clothes," he says. "Hang out with your friends, bunch of bars in Nashville, Coco Loco, three or four night clubs, where you can go dancing, drink something."

    Edmundo reclines in his favorite barber's chair as a single blade scrapes down his throat. He likes to come here after work to get a shave and a haircut before the weekend's festivities get started. So what are his plans?

    "Um, nothing, probably stay home, watch TV with my niece -- and that's it," he says. "I don't have a driver license since I'm in the country illegally and I don't want to face the consequences of my actions. So..."

    Edmundo doesn't have a driver's license because he's an illegal alien. It used to be that Tennessee was far enough from the border that nobody worried too much about immigration status. Not anymore. Just over a year ago, the Davidson County Sheriff's Department entered into a new agreement with the Department of Homeland Security, enabling local deputies to identify and process arrested aliens.

    The results have been dramatic: Arrests flagged for immigration violations have shot up 20 times, from 150 to nearly 3,000 a year. Sheriff Daron Hall says the program is highly popular, and hundreds of colleagues from around the country have called him requesting advice.

    "The point is, the public at large, I believe, don't like the fact that people continue to violate the law and are in our country illegally," Hall says. "That's been shown in just about any conversation you'll have. How and where that line is, I understand there's a debate about that."

    There's even debate within the police force. On Friday evening, Officer Richard Bain sits in his police car, patrolling the immigrant neighborhood of small family homes bordering the barber shop. An 18-year veteran of the force, Bain refuses to speak in the microphone. But he has a lot to report. Illegals are fleeing the scene of car accidents, they're not willing to cooperate when he comes to investigate and victims are afraid to report abuse. In his opinion, he could do his job better if immigration was left to the feds.

    A few hours later, it's well into the evening at one of Edmundo's favorite salsa clubs, Coco Loco. A festive palm tree sways over the bar. A full band is up on stage, trying to rally the club's Hispanic patrons with a dose of reconquista. But it's having little success.

    The club is half empty and the crowd is on the paler end of the spectrum. Santos Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican transplant from New York to Nashville, says business is awful.

    What's missing? Illegal aliens, he says. "There's no doubt, we've lost 40 percent of our illegal alien business." Gonzalez speaks outside of the club, watching the trickle of patrons enter the door. "They're afraid to come out pretty much every night. I've heard that people are just going to work and they're not even going out to the restaurants because they're illegal foreign nationals & don't want to get caught"

    Gonzalez is struggling to keep his business open, and he's not the only one.

    The Nashville-area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce reports that Latino nightclubs and restaurants across the city that cater to illegal foreign nationals are staying open fewer hours, taking items off the menu and laying people off. __________________
    __________________

    By Needle4JoseMedellin8-5-08 Needle4JoseMedellin8-5-08

    05/11/2008

    I entered your country without permission, health screening, or proper paperwork.
    I need a job so I stole your S.S. number.
    I need to drive to work, so I bought a fake driver's license.
    I have no valid driver's license so I drive without insurance.
    I can work and live on $6.00 an hour CASH because I don't pay income tax or S.S tax.
    I can work and live for $12.00 an hour on payroll because no one's required by law to have weekly Income Tax deducted (this not a crime*) but I pay into your S.S. account and really screw up YOUR credit and work history.
    I have 12 people living in my house and we split property taxes.
    I have 5 anchor babies and collect welfare, health care and food stamps for those little "citizens" and I enjoy all the benefits myself.
    I got your 10 year old daughter pregnant. Wait! That's not a crime in Mexico, so you can't hold that one against me.
    I'm just a hard worker trying to better myself at your expense.

    By Legal American

    From Nashville, TN, 05/11/2008

    Officer Bain should be doing his job and arresting law breakers instead of coddling them.

    I wonder what part of ILLEGAL alien he does not understand.

    As far as business that cater to ILLEGALS, they should be arrested too for aiding and abetting criminals.

    Lets rid our country of these criminals. Let them come back legally and come to welcoming and open arms.

  • Post a Comment: Please be civil, brief and relevant.

    Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. All comments are moderated. Weekend America reserves the right to edit any comments on this site and to read them on the air if they are extra-interesting. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting.

      Form is no longer active

     

    You must be 13 or over to submit information to American Public Media. The information entered into this form will not be used to send unsolicited email and will not be sold to a third party. For more information see Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Download Weekend America

Weekend Weather

From the January 31 broadcast

Support American Public Media with your Amazon.com purchases
Search Amazon.com:
Keywords:
 ©2015 American Public Media