Friday, March 23, 2007

Hazleton's Anti-immigrant Law in Judge's Hands

The trial to challenge Hazleton Pennsylvania's anti-immigrant ordinances is now in the judge's hands. No ruling is expected for two months.

The trial began on March 12, and illuminated much of the folly behind Lou Barletta's anti-immigrant movement. As I posted earlier this week, Barletta admitted under oath that he had never bothered to do any research on how many undocumented immigrants live in his town, nor whether they were straining services as he claimed. Today's L.A. Times reports another interested tidbit: of the 8,500 crimes committed in Hazleton in the last six years, the city can only prove that 20 were committed by illegal immigrants.

The real issue here is not Mr. Barletta's battle against crime or overcrowding. It's against change. In five years Hazleton's population increased by about 50%, to 31,000, mostly because of Latinos who left New York after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This former coal-mining town northwest of Philadelphia was in a state of decline before Latinos discovered, and revitalized the town.

Nostalgia so easily clouds one's judgment.

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