LANDMARK IMMIGRATION CASE
Pa.Mayor’s ‘Clean-Up’ Plan for City In Limbo Pending Judicial Review
By Mark Anderson
The embattled city of Hazleton, Pa., is now barred from enforcing its Illegal
Immigration Relief Act (IIRA) until a federal judge makes a ruling based on a trial that concluded March 22.
The trial was sparked by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the city’s ordinance, in which the ACLU took its notorious angle of aiding and abetting those who break or do an end-run around what many American citizens consider to be reasonable laws that have a sound purpose.
Intrepid Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta championed the IIRA ordinance package to regulate those who rent housing and apartments to, and those who employ, illegal aliens. His goal, for various reasons, is to get a handle on how many illegals have blended into the city, with special attention given to serious crimes in which illegals are prime suspects.
He spent considerable time testifying last month at the trial before U.S. District Judge James Munley, who is expected to take up to two months, or perhaps longer, to determine whether Hazleton’s ordinance is constitutional.
The ACLU and other pro-open-borders groups argued that the IIRA is unconstitutional. However, Barletta staunchly maintains that localities such as Hazleton have little choice but to enact certain limited measures to take up the slack, since the federal government is failing to consistently and effectively protect the nation’s borders.
Barletta’s efforts garnered national media attention and inspired dozens of other cities and towns across the nation to enact similar measures, in both border and non-border states.
Barletta, whose ordinance package was passed by the City Council in the summer of 2006 and went into force soon thereafter, included a provision for would-be renters to register with the city so landlords can monitor their identity and citizenship, regardless of their ethnic background. Moreover, English was established as the official language for city business, including the city government’s public documents and informational literature.
Hazleton, a town of some 33,000 people in northeastern Pennsylvania, in recent years had a population of about 22,000 but saw a major increase due largely to an influx of Latinos. Barletta attributed at least part of this influx to a population shift from nearby New York City just after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Barletta supports a Latino business district in Hazleton, where the business operators are all U.S. citizens. Despite the above-noted hike in population, Hazleton’s tax on wages has remained flat Barletta believes “this is just one indication that many newcomers are in Hazleton illegally, working off the books for unscrupulous employers,” the March 25 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted, paraphrasing Barletta.
TWO BIG CRIMES
“The case is very convoluted, and these are very important issues,” the judge was quoted as saying by local media, after testimony concluded. But, as AFP has reported, Barletta thinks the case centers around right and wrong and extends into matters of national security and the well-being of Hazleton. He told AFP that the federal government needs to seriously protect the nation’s north and south borders, airports and seaports.
He contends that people in the country illegally are eroding the quality of life in Hazleton by overcrowding local schools, medical facilities and other institutions, while subjecting local citizens to more crime. Illegal aliens in Hazleton are suspects in the fatal shooting of a man on a street and the rape of a 6-year-old girl, both of which took place in 2006.
DONORS HELP BARLETTA
Notably, due in part to a recent AFP report on Barletta that gave the address of his legal defense fund, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:
“A man with one leg arrived . . . from Philadelphia. He made his way to city hall and donated $40 to Hazleton’s government, which is in the thick of a lawsuit over its attempts to evict illegal immigrants. His was one of hundreds of modest contributions that poured in during the week, mostly from people who had never heard of Hazleton until it was sued by civil rights groups that oppose its immigration reform ordinances.”
That address, once again, is:
City of Hazleton Legal Defense Fund, c/o Mayor Lou Barletta, City Hall, 40 N. Church St., Hazleton, Pa. 18201.
American Free Press reporter Mark Anderson can be reached at email@example.com Watch future AFP issues for more on America’s welcome acceptance of biofuels and other energy alternatives, helping end our gluttonous addiction to foreign petroleum.
(Issue #16, April 16, 2007)