I don't live there. I was going to buy a home when I read this article from msn.com. I decided that the risks to the home values and tax rates was too great.
Updated: 3:31 a.m. ET April 10, 2007
HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. - After federal agents launched a massive raid on an apartment complex here two years ago, other illegal immigrants in this quiet town near Princeton University grew so wary of the law, authorities say, that many began hiding behind headstones in a local cemetery when patrol cars approached.
But these days, the immigrants of Hightstown are more likely to be the ones calling the cops. In the aftermath of a series of raids in 2004, the town council in this historic borough of 5,300 -- transformed in recent years by an influx of at least 1,300 Latin Americans -- unanimously approved a sort of immigrant bill of rights. Joining a growing list of cities enacting a no-questions-asked policy on immigration status, Hightstown now allows its undocumented residents to officially interact with local police and access city services without fear of being reported to federal authorities.
It has opened new lines of communication here, officials say. One illegal immigrant at the complex where the raids were staged called on the police recently to help place a family member into alcohol rehabilitation; others have reported domestic abuse, extortion, theft and other crimes. Some are calling the town's pro-immigrant mayor for advice on City Hall weddings and landlord troubles. Hightstown has added services aimed at immigrants, including free bilingual computer classes last month. Noting the shift, one Spanish-language newspaper recently dubbed Hightstown the "Paradise Town" of New Jersey.
"People are talking about how the police here can be trusted, so I called them right after I was mugged," said Julio, 33, a Guatemalan illegal immigrant who was assaulted in Hightstown last year. He said he was robbed several times in Texas before moving to New Jersey three years ago, but was too fearful to call law enforcement there. Here, "they came out to meet me, made a report and gave me a ride home. They haven't caught the guys who did it, but at least I didn't feel like I was the one who committed a crime."