Hazleton on trial, day one

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How can you help the city of Hazleton? Send money!

Lozano et al. v. City of Hazleton kicked off yesterday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with the ACLU arguing the plaintiffs' case against the city and an attorney for the city noting there's something slightly bassackwards about the trial itself:


Unlike a criminal case where evidence goes to the question of "Did he do it," Kobach said this case asks the judge to interpret whether the act is constitutional.

Because the restraining order kept the act from being enforced so far, testimony from business owners and landlords who claim injury is premature, in Kobach's opinion.


But, hey, judges, lawyers and advocacy organization execs have to put bread on the table just like everyone else.

Koback also questioned whether any of the plaintiffs has legal standing, and the city's lead attorney seems to have done an effective job discrediting some of the initial plaintiffs' witnesses:


Jose Lechuga testified that he had to close his grocery store and restaurant after the ordinances were passed because he lost clientele.

On cross-examination, Mahoney referred to Lechuga’s 2005 income tax returns, pointing out that Lechuga’s store was losing money in 2005. He also had Lechuga admit that he had not made a mortgage payment for a year by the time the ordinances were passed.


Also during cross was this interesting exchange with plaintiffs' witness Agapito Lopez:

While cross-examining Lopez, the city's lead attorney Henry "Hank" Mahoney named business such as Michael's Taxi and Crystal Barbecue that Latinos opened since the ordinance passed. Owners invited Barletta to their grand openings, Mahoney said.

During cross-examination, Lopez said he believes nations have the right to control their borders and deport people but thinks the United States government should deal with immigration, not small cities all over the country.

"Do you believe an illegal immigrant has the right to work in the city of Hazleton?" Mahoney asked.

"No," replied Lopez, a veteran of the U.S. Army, who said one of his five children is an immigration agent in Chicago.


Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta has not yet taken the stand, but we have had a sneak preview of his rationale for advocating the Illegal Immigration Relief Act in Hazleton.

The suit brought against the city has caused Hazleton to incur immense legal fees, which you can help offset by sending money.

Hazleton is attempting to do the job the Bush administration just won't do, which is look after its citizens and enforce the law. As such, the city is taking the lead on behalf of every municipality and county in the U.S. which might one day presume to control crime and costs within its boundaries. As Hazleton goes, so go the rest of us, so send that money if you haven't already.

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