As you probably know, in spite of a half-century history of urban renewal, Detroit, the home of the wretched Poletown case, is the basket case of American cities. More than half of its 1950s population has fled to other places, the city is dotted with vacant lots and rotting, abandoned buildings, and some of its formerly glorious civic structures have deteriorated to the point of post-apocalyptic ruin. The current Mayor has suggested in desperation that the only hope of Detroit’s survival as a city is to shrink it by demolishing thousands of structures, a process that is underway. Others have been suggesting that large swaths of Detroit be plowed under and converted to truck farms. Etc.
Now, along comes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the suggestion that “congress ‘pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agree to go to Detroit and live there for five or 10 years, start businesses, take jobs, whatever. You would populate Detroit overnight because half the world wants to come here.'” Editorial, Wagons North! N.Y. Times, May 18, 2011, at p. A16.
We are torn. On the one hand, this suggestion virtually begs for some sarcastic observations, but on the other hand, what can one say to that loony-tunes suggestion other than just letting it stand on its own? Suffice it to say that His Bloombergship has not given proper consideration to (a) the cost of resettling tens of thousands of poverty-stricken third world immigrants (who else is likely to take him up on this deal?), and (b) the problems of enforcing that “promise” to stay put for five to ten years. Since the right to travel is constitutionally guaranteed, and alienage is not a proper basis for discrimination under the equal protection clause of the Constitution, how you gonna keep them in Detroit, after they have decided that Florida is a nicer place?
Since our field is eminent domain, not law enforcement, we don’t even want to think about the problem of involuntarily confining a large populattion of poverty-stricken third worlders to life in Detroit. Security fencing surrounding Detroit would seem to be out, and if not that, then what? We suggest you not hold your breath waiting for Mayor Bloomberg to come up with a workable answer to that one.