Xenophobia in a Florida Condominium

Over the years I’ve rented in a few states and in Brazil, but only one of my landlords came close to what I’ve read coming out of a condo in Florida.

This week both the Brazilian Press and the Brazilian Voice reported that a condo president in Florida recently (October 8, 2007) sent a very threatening letter to all residents, advising that legal status of those living in the condo would be checked, and any found to be illegal would be turned over to “the Homeland Security Administration.” It’s so bad you have to laugh. An article about this situation can be found in English here.

The letter from condo president Lilyana Ferrara is strongly-worded, though there are several errors of language, style and legality in it. I wish I could find a copy of the complete letter to link and show just how outrageous it was. Here’s a choice paragraph, word-for-word from the letter with no correction:

“I am requesting that INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) come into our building and do a door to door documentation of everyone’s legal status in this country. I remind you that each unit can have only two(2) adults and (2) children. If you do not make yourself available with your documentation, I will allow the authorities to do whatever they deem necessary, including forcible entry into the unit.”

What?! To begin, the INS was phased out a few years ago and replaced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Then she reminds them that there is a limit per the condo agreement as to how many can live in each unit (the heart of her issue) and proceeds to threaten the residents that if they don’t answer the door, she’ll allow immigration to break it down. Maybe she doesn’t realize it, but unless they have a search warrant, they wouldn’t be able to use any evidence take in court. It would all be inadmissible. In any event, ICE would probably not be willing to spend the manpower and resources necessary to try to capture all the residents of a condo who are not legally in the U.S. At least, things haven’t gotten that bad in the United States yet.

This condo commando has apparently resigned, citing “health issues.” Honestly, it appears to me that she needs counseling. While I understand that the issues that bugged her were related to unknown people (apparently friends and family of residents) moving in and out of the condo and sometimes breaking things in the process, she should have taken the legal approach rather than trying to discriminate against an entire class of people. In other words, she may have been right in wanting to document who was living in the condo and ensure that all were abiding by the rules, but she was wrong to use immigration status to get the job done.

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