Dog Attack on Illegal Immigrant Ignites Immigration Debate In N.J. Town

An 85-pound German shepherd has become the unlikely face of the immigration debate in upscale Princeton, N.J., after a judge ordered the dog to be put down for attacking an illegal immigrant last summer.

Thousands of people have flooded the Internet and even petitioned the governor to ask that Congo be spared for his attack on Honduran landscaper Giovanni Rivera, who was injured seriously in June and later awarded $250,000 in insurance money.

And while New Jersey Gov. John Corzine has denied calls for a pardon, some town residents are upset the illegal immigrant was allowed to collect monetary compensation for his injuries.

"Too bad Congo doesn't work on the border patrol," one resident wrote online. "Maybe there would be less illegals entering our country."

Another poster called Rivera "illegal scum."

Rivera has called the attacks racist and political.

"We've created a subculture in this country right now. The illegal alien is like a subhuman and that's a dangerous precedent," said Rivera's attorney William Garces.

Not all Princeton's residents believe the incident should be used to fuel an immigration debate.

"I would hate my hometown and home state to go down in history as the place where suburbanites value their dogs above their lives of those they hire to tend their yards," one resident said.

Even Congo's owners, Guy and Elizabeth James, said their case has nothing to do with immigration. They claim their dog was provoked by Rivera.

"They hit my dogs. They grabbed my wife and that's what this case is about," Guy James said.

Currently Congo is living at home, and the James family has appealed the local judge's ruling to put him down. The case now is with New Jersey's Superior Court.