By Jon Hurdle
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania town's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration will be challenged by civil rights campaigners in a landmark federal trial beginning on Monday that could signal whether such local laws across the country can stand up to legal challenge.
Hazleton, a community of about 30,000, set the tone for dozens of other towns across the United States when it passed a law last year imposing penalties on businesses that hire undocumented aliens, and fining landlords who rent to them. The city council also declared English the official language.
WASHINGTON, Mar. 7 /Standard Newswire/ - Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in support of two ordinances enforced by the City of Hazleton relating to the employment and harboring of illegal aliens (Pedro Lozano, et al., v. City of Hazleton, Cause No. 3:06cv1586). The plaintiffs, who include unnamed illegal immigrants, are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Puerto Rican Defense Fund, among others.
By: Gregg MacDonald
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Louis Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., spoke at a National Press Club panel discussion on immigration issues, sponsored by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
This past July, Barletta initiated and helped to pass the Illegal Immigration Relief Act in his municipality of 31,000, which he referred to as "the toughest city in America on illegal aliens."
Similar to measures now under consideration in Herndon, the Hazleton ordinance denies business permits to businesses hiring illegal aliens and establishes English as the language of official city documents, among other measures.
By L.A. TARONE
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sided with plaintiffs in the suit against Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act.
The federal chamber filed a brief on behalf of plaintiffs in the case in U.S. Middle District Court in Scranton Monday afternoon.
Text of the brief was not available Monday night.
But City Council President Joe Yannuzzi said he received a call about the filing Monday evening.
"I was very disturbed over it," Yannuzzi said. "I’m a businessman for years and I understand how it works. But I didn’t think the (U.S. Chamber) would do that."
From staff reports
A nationwide telephone poll suggests that most Americans support efforts like Hazleton’s ordinance to crack down on illegal immigrants.
The poll, conducted Feb. 22 to 26 with 1,000 respondents, shows that by a 68-25 margin, Americans support the ordinances proposed by Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta and adopted by City Council.
The poll was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a Harrisburg firm.
Results of the poll were announced Thursday at a National Press Club panel in Washington, sponsored by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group.
By L.A. TARONE
The court case involving Hazleton’s controversial Illegal Immigration Relief Act opens March 12 in federal court in Scranton in front of Judge James M. Munley. There have been several volleys in the run-up to it.
Tuesday, Munley issued an 18-page order granting and denying several motions from both sides.
Last year, Munley allowed the identity of several plaintiffs in the case to remain anonymous. And plaintiffs, mainly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, sought to bar the city from presenting evidence that the presence of illegal aliens had made an impact on public services.
By Megan Woolhouse
Newton city aldermen want to give legal immigrants who aren't citizens the right to vote in local elections, sparking debate among state lawmakers, immigrant rights advocates, and opponents about the meaning of citizenship amid the changing demographics of the region.
The aldermen last week approved a proposal to allow resident aliens to vote, joining Cambridge, Amherst, and Wayland in passing such measures in recent years. Two of the municipalities have asked the Legislature for authority to grant legal immigrants, those with green cards, the right to vote over the last decade, but the lawmakers, wary of a backlash against immigration and the power of a new batch of voters, have not approved the requests.
By WADE MALCOLM
A federal judge will allow Hazleton to present anecdotal and observational evidence of the financial drain illegal immigrants have on public services.
U.S. District Judge James M. Munley’s ruling paves the way for city officials to state their rationale for adopting ordinances targeting illegal immigrants — an argument that could be key to city’s defense against several aspects of the lawsuit.
While agreeing with the plaintiffs that the city has produced few hard facts supporting its claims, Munley said witnesses can provide competent testimony “about what they have seen, heard and experienced, even when they cannot reduce that testimony to neat statistical categories.”
By P.J. Huffstutter
Times Staff Writer
Last summer, Mayor Jeffery J. Whitteaker was on his way to work in Valley Park, Mo., when he heard a radio broadcast about a town in Pennsylvania that had passed laws fining landlords who rented to illegal immigrants and denying business permits to companies that hired them.
A few days later, Whitteaker met with the city's council of representatives, and the council unanimously passed a similar ordinance. They also sparked a fierce legal fight that has thrust this town of about 6,400 into the national battle over immigration law.
Today, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Barbara Wallace will hear oral arguments on a challenge to the city measure. Wallace is expected to rule in the next few days on whether the ordinance violates state or federal constitutional protections, putting the Valley Park case in line to set legal precedence on the issue.
By Fred Lucas
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
After the small town of Hazleton, Pa., experienced a stabbing, a drug bust and a few absentee landlords with as many as nine residents living in a single unit, Mayor Louis Barletta said he lay awake one night and thought, "I've lost my city."
The common thread running through many of the problems facing the once-sleepy town of about 23,000 residents is that the offenses involved illegal immigrants.
Before 2000, Barletta recalled, the town averaged one murder every seven years. After an influx of illegal immigrants, there have been three murders in the last 18 months.