Dispatches: Hazelton, PA
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 email@example.com and Pro-English at firstname.lastname@example.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:
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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