Hazleton Supreme Court Ruling Huge Win for Barletta, Kobach and Patriots

Published on June 7th, 2011

The Supreme Court ruled this week to void a September lower court decision that blocked a Hazleton city ordinance, the Hazleton Immigration Relief Act, which would deny permits to businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens and to fine landlords who rent to them. The Court’s decision is a triumph of perseverance for the city’s former Mayor and current U.S. Representative Lou Barletta and the bill’s author Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state. By a 5-3 vote, the justices returned the case to the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for further review. While this does not automatically mean that Hazleton will be allowed to enforce its law, Temple University law professor Peter Spiro, predicted that opponents will have a tough time convincing the appeals court in light of the Supreme Court’s recent similar ruling in the Arizona case. Said Spiro: “The clear message is they [the Supreme Court] are going to tolerate some level of state and local participation in immigration enforcement.” The ruling is not only a huge personal victory for Barletta and Kobach but also for immigration reform patriots across the United States. On my recent trip to Washington, D.C., Kobach spoke to me about how daunting the odds against him were during the original 2007 suit against Hazleton. Among those who opposed him were federal judge James Munley, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Foundation, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Foundation and the Community Justice Project. Since his initial setback in the Hazleton decision, Barletta persisted in his bid for a U.S. House seat. Narrowly defeated in 2002 and 2008 by incumbent Paul Kanjorski, Barletta finally triumphed in 2010 over his Democratic opponent. Barletta is now an active Congressional anti-illegal immigration advocate who has co-signed bills to end anchor baby citizenship, mandate the use of E-Verify, increase interior enforcement and end chain migration. The Supreme Court decision should embolden other cities and counties to pass similar legislation that penalizes actions that encourage illegal immigration. Said Barletta: “Hazleton has paved the way for other cities and states across the country to enact similar laws, so this is a great day for all of those cities and states, and for the people of Hazleton who had to endure criticism from those who opposed what we were trying to do because the federal government didn’t want do its job.” According to the 2010 U.S. Bureau of the Census count, the Hazleton population was 25,340, an increase of 8.6 percent from 2000. During the same period, Hazleton’s Hispanic population increased sevenfold. [Hazleton Paces Local Area Hispanic Growth, by Steve Mocarsky, Times Leader, June 7, 2011]

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