Dispatches: Hazelton, PA

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Hazelton, Pennsylvania, was the first jurisdiction to pass the Illegal Immigration Relief Act (IIRA) authored by Joe Turner for San Berndardino, California. Hazelton reworked the original bill to make it easier to defend against challenges by the ACLU and others, by breaking into two parts. One is the IIRA, and the other is the English Only ordinance for local government.

If you are concerned about illegal aliens in your community, one of the first steps you should take is to send both of these model ordinances to your local elected officials.

Also, read this note from the Immigration Reform Law Institute:

The model ordinances are intended to be generic models, potentially adaptable by local governments anywhere in the United States. As such they still require important modifications to conform to the requirements of local and state laws, which can vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another. For a local government that is considering adopting one or both of these models, it is essential that a local government representative, ideally a local attorney representing that government, contact IRLI at info@irli.org and Pro-English at mail@proenglish.org as far in advance as possible, to discuss critical technical issues in confidence. Improper implementation of a local immigration relief ordinance could expose a local government to legal liability, including civil rights claims.

San Bernardino's ordinance is in legal limbo because the signatures gathered to place it on the ballot in November have been challenged. Hazelton's action is described below the fold:

Mayor signs new illegals law

The national implications of Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act were apparent to Mayor Louis Barletta and his opponents Thursday when he signed the law.

"It will be something that can be modeled throughout the United States," Barletta said during a ceremony in his office at City Hall.

Barletta said the law will be more effective than a version that the city enacted on July 13 but agreed not to enforce after groups filed a legal challenge.

The new version, which the city will enforce on or before Nov. 1, punishes businesses almost immediately for hiring illegal immigrants, defends rights of legal workers and fines landlords for renting to illegal immigrants.

A provision making English the official language of city government was removed from the immigration ordinance and approved as a separate ordinance, which Barletta also signed.
Barletta said the English language law didn't belong in the immigration law and was removed "rather than muddy the waters when we get into court."

While expecting a lawsuit, Barletta said the revised immigration law contains armor against a legal attack because it requires the federal government rather than city officials or ordinary residents to determine the immigration status of workers and tenants.

"So we're not crossing the line," Barletta said.

HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) -- The Hazleton City Council formally approved a revamped immigration ordinance Tuesday, reworking the law it passed two months ago to strengthen it against legal challenges.

The revised version passed 4-1, and council members also voted unanimously to make English the official language of the city.

Like the version it replaces, the new immigration ordinance punishes businesses that employ illegal immigrants and landlords who rent to them in the city of 31,000 residents about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The biggest change is in the enforcement of the law. The burden of verifying immigration status will now be on the city, giving landlords and businesses time to correct violations before imposing sanctions, and softening penalties.

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Lynn Monti said:

Bravo and Kudos, its about time we are trying to get back our country. My family is in the military fighting for this great country, and look where we are going with it to the dogs. I go in supermarkets within my area and they make announcements on the PA system in SPANISH not in english. Shame on us for allowing this to happen. You have to wonder whose country this is any way. Our politians are pro specs not-proamericans. Shame on them.

I feel that if you come to this country of your own free will, you are living, working and raising a family, but they way which we are paying for (ie their health, the education of their children, pays no taxes, etc.)they should be speaking our language in main street society. none of this bilingual sh..

I personally which they were deported.

Kevin said:

scaredy cat

Robert said:

i think it important that people, all people, even americans learn to read and write english. this means even posters complaining of specs and whiching they were deported. ;-)

Kevin said:

Nice one. I agree. I also can't think of one thing wrong with "bilingual sh..". And the "about time we are trying to get back our country". . .well that's just bilge. I've never found myself wondering "whose country this is anyway?". Except maybe in response to the ultraconservative agenda. . .

Skip said:


Either your head is in the sand, or you don't live in a border state. Wake up, or, as Tom Cruise would say, "You're glib, Kevin! You're glib!"

kevin said:

Skip, "glib" is one of the nicest things I've been called. Tell me what's wrong with your knowing 2 languages? or with spanish speaking people knowing and using 2 languages?

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