The Irving school district has lost 656 students since the end of September, and officials attribute the decline to a crackdown on illegal immigrants and the shutting down of aging apartment complexes.
[...]Last year, Irving schools lost 283 students during the same period.[...]
Superintendent Jack Singley said a city code-enforcement crackdown on declining apartments where many low-income families live may have caused people to leave town. And some immigrants may have left Irving because they feared deportation.
As the article goes on to say this has a host of implications. State funding for schools is determined by how many children are attending school, so it may have a major impact. The school district is now thinking about whether they need to build the two additional schools they had scheduled, and are wondering if this trend will continue and require them to downsize the faculty.
This appears to confirm the hypothesis that this crackdown is intended to get Hispanics out of Irving, a possibility we raised earlier.
Evidently some in the Hispanic community have started to catch on (quoting the DMN again):
In addition to heightened fear of deportation, city officials are targeting aging and dilapidated apartment complexes for demolition if they don't make required improvements.
Pastor Pedro Portillo of the Santa Maria de Guadalupe Church said he sees the apartment crackdown as targeting the same group as the deportations. Many of his parishioners with children have left the city and are too afraid to return for Sunday services, he said.
"It's another discriminatory way to move the Hispanic community from the area," he said. "Most of the people that live there are Hispanic."
Of course the Hispanic community is automatically going to assume that the main motivation behind the crackdown is racial, but I'm still not convinced of that. I think that the leadership of Irving is looking more at the bottom line (money-wise) than doing anything so petty as persecuting Hispanics (I mean, this isn't Farmer's Branch!), but it works out about the same anyway.
And the city gives the same old excuse:
"I know that this does disrupt families, but our first and foremost concern is the living conditions of these folks, and they were not safe," code compliance director Teresa Adrian said. "We can't turn a blind eye."
The city did, however, turn a blind eye for a long enough time that these apartments became near slums. And then instead of giving them an equally long time to fix the apartments, the city decided that these apartments just had to meet new standards in the period of a few months. But worst of all, really, is that instead of implementing any plans to try to replace those slums with decent low-income housing, the city has done nothing except force the closures of those apartments. There hasn't been any plan to relocate those residents, and certainly no effort to make sure they don't leave Irving.
On a similar note, the City of Irving instituted a program among employees called "Eyes on Irving". The city issued a little booklet to every employee with a card inside it that has a list of common code violations and a 24-hour phone number to call and report problems. The idea behind it is that using every city employee as a spotter for code violations, code enforcement will be much more efficient and stringent. While it's possible that this will never lead to abuse, such as the many city employees who live in Irving reporting on their neighbors who annoy them, I think it's likely that a lot of employees are going to use this to make their problem neighbors regret it.
I have yet to figure out exactly why code enforcement has become such a big issue recently. The city is aging less than gracefully in some areas, but it's far from turning into a trash heap like certain areas of Dallas. It just doesn't seem rational.
Update (4/11/08): Well, recently we've gotten some new information passed our way about events and happenings in Irving having to do with the code enforcement crackdown. If you know or even strongly suspect anything, leave a comment or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You never know what could happen just from talking!