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Thread: Tension for East Hampton as Immigrants Stream In

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    Tension for East Hampton as Immigrants Stream In

    Tension for East Hampton as Immigrants Stream In

    nytimes.com
    By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
    Published: July 2, 2012


    As cyclists ride by, Carlos Fernando Quintana, an immigrant from Guatemala, trims a hedge in East Hampton, N.Y.

    The Long Island Rail Road station in the town of East Hampton is a manicured place; the little white station house flanked by tidy trees almost looks like a child’s toy that just came out of the box. It is a short drive from the beach and steps from lavish boutiques, stores like John Varvatos and Coach. On any summer day, caravans of luxury cars can be spotted out front.

    But on any workday, residents say, it is dotted with another sight as well: men in sturdy boots and dusty jeans, laborers looking to be picked up for work.

    When one thinks of the Hamptons, what jumps to mind are masters of the universe and their mansions by the sea. But a strong, steady stream of immigrants has been flowing to the area for years, drawn by a service economy that demands hedges be trimmed and houses be cleaned. In the Springs, a hamlet in the town of East Hampton, where most of the houses are small and the year-round population is relatively large, the Hispanic population has tripled in the past 10 years — and tension has emerged.

    Some longtime residents of the Springs and similar areas complain that homes are being illegally crowded, that houses with half a dozen cars parked outside are a blight on the street, and that the many children living inside are overwhelming the local schools and causing property taxes to rise.

    “When you tell people you live in East Hampton, the first words out of their mouth are usually, ‘Do you live next to P. Diddy or Alec Baldwin?’ ” said Dennis Michael Lynch, an East Hampton resident and a filmmaker who made a documentary about illegal immigration called “They Come to America.”

    “People have a perception of the Hamptons,” Mr. Lynch continued. “They don’t have an image of illegal immigrants packed like sardines into houses.”

    The pockets of tension are concentrated in year-round communities, where the immigrants, legal and illegal, tend to live alongside the landscapers and the contractors with whom they are competing for business. These areas are far less affluent than the southern end of town, where Manhattanites spend the summer by the ocean, in homes hidden behind 12-foot hedges.

    “South of the highway, the rich people, they don’t care,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, a carpenter from Colombia who has lived in East Hampton for 12 years. It is among “the working people, regular people like us,” he continued, where less welcoming sentiments can be found. “You can feel it.”

    Most of the houses on the leafy, winding roads of the Springs are small, well kept but simple. Pickup trucks and modest cars are parked in driveways under fluttering American flags. Home prices and rents are relatively low. Most Springs residents are white, but according to the 2010 census, 37 percent are Hispanic.

    Francisco Rafael Varela, an immigrant from Nicaragua who was waiting for a bus in East Hampton last week under a clear blue sky, said that when he came to this country, he came not to New York City or to Florida, but directly to the Hamptons to find work.

    Mr. Lynch and others who have raised the issue of crowded houses — at Town Board meetings or in property owner association newsletters — say it has nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but rather enforcement of existing codes that designate homes for single-family use. If a house is crammed with several families, they say, or occupied like a rooming house, that can hurt a whole street. Or when neighbors pack houses full of children, their critics complain of ending up shouldering an unfair portion of the school tax burden.

    “This is really about property values and the neighborhood,” said Carol Saxe Buda, who helped begin a group called Unoccupy Springs about a year and a half ago to address crowding.

    “A substantial number of illegally occupied homes reflect a certain community,” she added, referring to immigrants, but she emphasized that where the residents came from was never the reason her group singled out a home. The group’s members highlight only places that are, by their crowding, straining the local schools or threatening neighboring property values, she said. “We report houses that are problems," she said. “We don’t care who’s in them.”

    The East Hampton housing code allows no more than four unrelated people, or one family, to occupy a single-family home, and town officials acknowledge that crowding does exist. They receive a few complaints each week, most frequently in the Springs, and some of those do result in violations. And the deputy town supervisor, Theresa K. Quigley, said the Springs had some of the highest per-acre taxes around.

    Nonetheless, some residents, including Ms. Quigley, say the objections are more sinister. “The people who came to the Town Board insist there is nothing racial intended,” said Ms. Quigley, who was born and raised in the Hamptons. “They say they’re talking about overcrowding, but they’re talking about Latinos.”

    This spring, some residents went to a Town Board meeting waving giant photographs of homes they said were over-occupied, Ms. Quigley recounted, and threatening to compile and publicize a list of every one of those homes they could find. Ms. Quigley made a comment to a person nearby comparing the sentiments in the room to the rise of Nazism. That comment was picked up by a microphone and it soon typhooned into a controversy.

    Last week, she refused to back down from the comparison.

    “How, how, how could a country do what they did?” Ms. Quigley, who has lived in Germany, asked of that country’s past. “I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you one thing: It’s a series of little steps. It doesn’t happen in a huge bang. And it happens by targeting a group for your problems.”

    East Hampton, she continued, “is a great place to live, but we have troubles.”

    “People tend to blame the Latino community for their troubles,” she added. “Doesn’t that sound a little familiar? Like blaming the Jews for troubles in Germany.”

    Fred Weinberg, a member of the Unoccupy Springs group who was at that Town Board meeting, said that as a Jewish man, he found the remarks extremely offensive, and he demanded Ms. Quigley’s resignation. She did not oblige or apologize.

    Today he continues to work on the issues of crowding, he said, though he prefers to work away from Ms. Quigley when possible.

    “I know there are people who probably are racist,” Mr. Weinberg said. “But it’s not me, it’s not Carol Buda, it’s not any of the people that I know who have been trying to work on this problem. We just want them, very simply, to enforce the law and protect our community.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/ny...er=rss&emc=rss
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  2. #2
    Senior Member dogpile's Avatar
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    "Immigrants"...the positive word that covers up so many crimes, ills and costs.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Kiara's Avatar
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    “They say they’re talking about overcrowding, but they’re talking about Latinos.”

    Well if the overcrowding is done by latinos, um yeah they will be talking about latinos.

    “People tend to blame the Latino community for their troubles,”
    Well it isn't canadians or anyone else causing problems evidentally.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member agrneydgrl's Avatar
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    Ethnicity should matter. There is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve OUR ethnicity. They are changing the makeup of our country. If I wanted to live amoung foreign speaking people, I would move to a foreign country. I don't understand why we must put up with this. Just becasue they want to move here illegally and think it is ok, doesn't mean we have to like it. I wish we could get leaders in Washington that had a backbone and stood up for the American people.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member cavmom's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more...in my neighborhood we raised our kids in , it was safe, neighbors knew each other...it was a good place to live and raise kids in. Its changed....most my neighbors speak a different launguage now.....i feel like I dont belong here and i definitly don't feel safe.
    And yes, in my neighborhood there are homes with multiple familes living in them...including living in the garage. 5 or 6 vehicles , if not more, taking all the parking on the street.
    Its brought the living conditions down quite a bit in this area. I see nothing wrong with having rules against these changes.
    We citizens also have rights...we need to stand up for them ..instead of being afraid of being called a racist.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Kiara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavmom View Post
    I couldn't agree more...in my neighborhood we raised our kids in , it was safe, neighbors knew each other...it was a good place to live and raise kids in. Its changed....most my neighbors speak a different launguage now.....i feel like I dont belong here and i definitly don't feel safe.
    And yes, in my neighborhood there are homes with multiple familes living in them...including living in the garage. 5 or 6 vehicles , if not more, taking all the parking on the street.
    Its brought the living conditions down quite a bit in this area. I see nothing wrong with having rules against these changes.
    We citizens also have rights...we need to stand up for them ..instead of being afraid of being called a racist.
    I worked for 8 long years having to listen to spanish all day. It drove me insane! I felt like I was the one that left MY country. No American citizen should feel like an outsider in their own country!!!! In many areas you are now required to speak spanish in order to get hired for a job. This is so wrong!!!!!!!!! All other cultures have learned english and speak english. When one culture forces changes in the country they fled to, there is a huge problem and it must be dealt with.

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