In a rare victory for working-class people, a judge today in Pennsylvania threw out anti-immigrant ordinances adopted by the City of Hazleton. These discriminatory laws would bar undocumented immigrants from working or renting homes there. Several towns across the country rushed to pass similar laws after Hazleton enacted theirs, causing hard-working immigrants to brace for more discrimination.
The successful challenge to the Hazleton law was brought by Campaign partners the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union. They were able to convince a federal judge that the laws interfered with federal law, which regulates immigration, and violated the rights of employers, landlords and undocumented immigrants.
But why did Hazleton enact the law in the first place? The City claims that immigrants are responsible for a crime wave in Hazleton. But the civil rights lawyers were able to show that only 4 of 428 violent crimes in Hazleton in the last six years could be attributed to undocumented immigrants. The real reason then? Many believe that Hazleton’s ordinances, and those passed in other towns like Farmers Branch in Texas, are aimed at Mexicans.
We will have to watch this case closely, as the mayor of Hazleton, Louis J. Barletta, has promised to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. Perhaps Mr. Barletta, and the leaders of Farmers Branch should come visit New York City. And while they are here, stop by and visit our Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty’s inscription reads:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
It doesn’t say except Mexicans or brown people.
Posted by Cristobal Joshua Alex