3.27.2007

Hazelton's Immigrant Codes Trial

Jackson Chin, Associate Counsel, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), has written The Hazleton immigration ordinance trial: an inside perspective for the JURIST's Hotline.

Here's an excerpt from Mr. Chin's article, which makes clear that Hazelton's anti-immigrant ordinance is as much about terrorizing and chasing out Latinos--citizens and noncitizens alike--as it is about anything else.

Plaintiffs showed that in the months that followed [the adoption of the anti-immigrant ordinance] and in a national election year, the Defendant Mayor’s media driven campaign stoked panic and fear among the City’s newcomer Latino residents and business owners. Latinos complained about illegal police ID checks of Latino immigrants in the streets, public insults, and, parents fretting over the welfare of their school-age children. These led to Latinos staying at home, the flight of immigrant families, businesses in the City’s Hispanic district losing customers, mounting sales income losses due to a “ghost-town” effect, mortgage defaults arose, Latino businesses closing, and landlords with hardships renting to tenants. The court issuance of the TRO (October 31, 2006) provided a stabilizing effect but the ordinance’s intended impact was palpable. Plaintiffs also showed that the police chief and other officials were not consulted by the Mayor, that no research existed tending to show a crisis of illegal immigrants existed before the bills were proposed, and, that the City’s blame failed to distinguish its Latino residents, whether citizen, immigrant or undocumented, causing community fear and discord.
According to Chin, the parties will submit their post-trial briefs due in April 2007. Then, the court will make a decision. It is likely the losing party will take an appeal to the 3rd Circuit.