Hazleton codifies racism
Friday, July 14
Home-grown bigots are nothing new in America or Pennsylvania. Every city of any size has its particular variety spewing its brand of ignorance-based poison and racist nonsense.
Then there's Hazleton, Pa., where last night they made hate official city policy.
On a 4-1 vote, the Hazleton City Council, at the urging of Mayor Lou Barletta, effectively told illegal immigrants to get lost.
The ordinance, the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, takes effect in 60 days and imposes ,000 fines on property owners for each illegal immigrant renting and denies licenses to businesses who employ illegal immigrants.
Sounds fine and all very legal. But the Standard-Speaker newspaper of Hazleton said that before the vote, critic Anna Arias warned the council that it would make Hazleton "the first Nazi city in the country."
Community governments commit overkill in passing local laws almost on a daily basis. Seldom has one garnered so much national interest or provoked such emotional outcries over local illegal immigration issues as the travesty in Hazleton.
The focus of those emotions is not the subtle racism evident in the language of the ordinance, but Mayor Louis Barletta, who has been trotted out by more extremist immigration control advocates as a surrogate spokesman.
Last week, he told a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that Hazleton is "buckling under the strain of illegal immigration"and that if the city can't get help "from outside our borders, we must and we will take steps from within to secure our future."
Barletta denies being "racist, intolerant and unfair" stressing instead that "illegal is illegal" and that the ordinance does not "target any particular race."
But the mayor of Hazleton obviously is glorying in the national publicity, and his public attitude belies a deep interest in the fate of those now living in his city: "The illegal citizens, I would recommend they leave."
Many eyes will be focused on how the city proceeds in implementing the new law.
Particularly troubling to Barletta and his camp followers is the growth in the Latino population, from 1,600 in 2,000 to more than 11,000 today -- nearly a third of Hazleton's population.
The new ordinance also smacks of vigilantism, and one Latino group, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, has threatened to sue because the city's action may be construed as an attempt to override federal immigration authority.
That's a clear issue for the courts. But ordinary citizens don't need a ruling from the bench to know that last night's show in Hazleton, for now, wrote racism into the law. http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/nation/15044944.htm
Hazleton law poses problems for illegalsBy MARK SCOLFORO
HAZLETON, Pa. - Mayor Lou Barletta signed a city ordinance yesterday that punishes people who do business with illegal immigrants or provide them with jobs or housing, but critics called the new law unenforceable and predicted it would be overturned.
Barletta said his office will soon begin to train city workers in how to check people's immigration or citizenship status. He also expects the City Council to approve companion legislation requiring all tenants to register with the city and prove their legal residency.
"We will start the process of training employees and possibly hiring someone as well," Barletta said yesterday. "We're also going to be talking with Immigration and Customs [enforcement] to see if possibly we could receive some assistance."
The city's Code Enforcement Department will implement the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, a law passed by the City Council on Thursday that fines landlords ,000 per day for each illegal immigrant living on their properties. It takes effect in two months.
"Do I have confidence that employees of the City of Hazleton will be able to implement this policy in a way that makes sense? Absolutely not," said Lee Llambelis, legal director of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Llambelis said her organization will file a lawsuit claiming that the ordinance violates the federal government's jurisdiction over immigration.
"We very much expect there to be similar cookie-cutter ordinances popping up all over the country," she said. "We will start in Hazleton but are prepared to litigate them nationally."
Barletta, a Republican, proposed the law to address crime, school crowding, hospital costs and demands for city services that he attributes to an influx of illegal immigrants in the northeastern Pennsylvania town of about 30,000. The measure has divided the city, with many longtime residents supporting Barletta, but the growing Latino community is largely opposed to it.
People for the American Way called it "a frightening piece of legislation" that could lead to harassment of anyone who looks like an immigrant.
The Hazleton law is the latest example of local and state governments, frustrated by federal inaction on illegal immigration, developing their own solutions to the problems it creates. http://www.wyou.com/news/default.asp?mode=shownews&id=6014
Hazleton to Enforce New Immigration Law in 2 Months
Friday, July 14, 2006
Less than 24 hours after Hazleton City Council passed it, Mayor Lou Barletta signed the city`s new illegal immigration legislation into law.
Police say they`ll start enforcing it in 60 days.
The law calls for landlords to be fined ,000 a day for renting to illegal immigrants, while businesses who hire illegals will lose city business for at least five years.
The law gained nationwide attention and is such a divisive issue that Mayor Barletta actually wore a bulletproof vest at last night`s meeting.