By Matt Birkbeck
Of The Morning Call
Newly compiled police statistics reveal that violent crime in Hazleton rose by 60 percent from 2003 to 2006, when the city experienced an influx of new Hispanic residents, Mayor Lou Barletta testified Thursday.
Barletta also said 19 illegal immigrants were charged with violent crimes including homicide, rape and aggravated assault last year, more than all the illegal immigrants charged during the preceding five years combined.
''How many people need to be shot before we stand up and fight back?'' Barletta said during his second day of testimony in a federal trial over Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act. The ordinance, passed last summer, imposes fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and companies that employ them.
By KENT JACKSON
A tally of violent crimes presented Thursday in federal court corresponded with what Mayor Louis Barletta said he saw in Hazleton before proposing the Illegal Immigration Relief Act.
Taking the stand for the second consecutive day in the trial about the act’s constitutionality, Barletta described crimes that jarred his community the past six years:
o A murder on a Friday night in October 2001 as students went for pizza after a high school football game.
o A young woman staggering onto the street with a knife in her stomach after her boyfriend stabbed her and jumped out a window onto a police officer in 2003.
By STEVE MOCARSKY
SCRANTON – Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta on Thursday finally got to tell a judge the story he’s been sharing with the rest of the world for the past nine months – but in greater detail.
And he got to give his critics something they’ve been demanding for months – statistics on crime and other factors that compelled him to propose what has become one of the most controversial illegal immigration laws in the nation – Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act.
U.S. District Judge James Munley also heard political science professor Marc R. Rosenblum – an expert witness for the plaintiffs – testify earlier Thursday how the Relief Act and a related landlord/tenant registration ordinance could lead to employment and housing discrimination in Hazleton.
SCRANTON - The mayor of Hazleton on Thursday described a series of violent crimes that led him to believe illegal immigrants were running amok in his city.
Defending his crackdown on illegal immigrants, Lou Barletta told a judge that violent crime spiked 60 percent between 2003 and 2006, driving businesses away and making residents afraid to come out of their homes.
In the span of a few weeks last spring, he said, illegal immigrants were arrested for shooting and killing a man, shooting up a playground with a BB gun and dealing drugs.
"People were demanding that something be done," said Barletta, testifying on the fourth day of a trial to determine the constitutionality of Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act.
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - For nearly a year, Hazleton's mayor has told anyone who would listen that illegal immigrants were wrecking the quality of life in the city. On Wednesday, for the first time, Lou Barletta was forced to defend that claim under oath.
Barletta took the witness stand and stoutly defended his crackdown on illegal immigrants, jousting with an ACLU lawyer who derided the mayor as a political opportunist with a thin grasp of the facts.
Testifying at the first federal trial on local efforts to curb illegal immigration, Barletta said he pushed through his Illegal Immigration Relief Act last summer as a response to crime and other social ills.
By STEVE MOCARSKY
SCRANTON – It wasn’t very far into Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta’s testimony Wednesday before he used what has become his now-famous catch phrase – “Illegal is illegal” – in the Illegal Immigration Relief Act trial.
“It will be on my tombstone, I’m sure,” Barletta said, eliciting laughter from attorneys and spectators in the courtroom.
It was one of the lighter moments in the proceedings during which Barletta was grilled for a total of more than four hours on the witness stand.
The mayor locked horns with the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, determined to defend his city in what many see as the hottest current trial in the nation.
Hazleton defense fund being used up, Web site renews call for donations (Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice)
BY NICHOLE DOBO AND WADE MALCOLM
Since July, more than $124,100 has been raised to pay for the defense of Hazleton’s illegal immigration ordinance.
By Wednesday, $50,527.38 remained.
The city’s Web site for the ordinance, www.smalltowndefenders.com, includes a renewed call for donations to pay for its legal battle, which is turning out to be a costly affair.
“We need your help,” the site urges with exclamation points. “Your contribution will help us win this fight!”
Since December, more than $70,700 of donations to the city were spent on legal fees.
By WADE MALCOLM
SCRANTON — Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta has sat in plenty of spotlights and answered thousands of questions since proposing a law targeting illegal immigrants. But never quite like this.
Grilled for more than four hours on the witness stand Wednesday, Barletta again defended the city’s right to punish landlords and employers doing business with illegal immigrants, this time under oath at the William J. Nealon Federal Building during day three of the trial of Lozano vs. City of Hazleton.
But Barletta also admitted he lacked statistics, evidence or research to support his main reason for proposing the ordinance — that illegal immigrants are destroying the quality of life in Hazleton.
By KENT JACKSON
SCRANTON – Latinos grew fearful for themselves and pessimistic about their businesses after Hazleton approved its immigration act, leaders of the Latino community testified Tuesday in federal court.
The testimony occurred as the second day of a trial about the constitutionality of the act delved into perceptions of Latinos who opposed the act and city officials who approved it.
When Jose Molina, regional director of the Pennsylvania Statewide Latino Coalition, testified about people being unnerved by police and sanitation workers, attorneys for the city sought to put the actions in a different light.
By KENT JACKSON
SCRANTON – Attorney Tom Wilkinson pointed to a paragraph in Hazleton’s immigration act that says the city is mandated to “abate the nuisance of illegal immigration” and posed a question.
“Say a person is working and his visa expires. Is he a nuisance?”
“Is he illegal?” city Council President Joseph Yannuzzi responded.
“I wouldn’t know,” said Wilkinson, adding that to determine legal status requires special training.
“I wouldn’t know either,” Yannuzzi answered Tuesday during a trial in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to decide whether the act is constitutional.