First victory in Hazleton
Congrats to our great legal team, who picked up a "W" yesterday when a federal judge ruled that Hazleton cannot enforce its anti-immigrant ordinance until November 14:
U.S. District Judge James Munley, ruling that landlords, tenants and businesses that cater to Hispanics face the prospect of "irreparable harm" from the laws, issued a temporary restraining order blocking their enforcement.
"We find it in the public interest to protect residents access to homes, education, jobs and businesses," he wrote in a 13-page opinion.
Mayor Lou Barletta, who spearheaded the law, has argued that illegal immigrants have brought an increase in drugs, crime and gangs to the city. The city's lawyers on Tuesday cited a 10 percent increase in crime between 2004 and 2005 as a reason why the ordinances should be enforced.
Munley, however, wrote that the city "offers only vague generalizations about the crime allegedly caused by illegal immigrants, but has nothing concrete to back up these claims."
Which is what we've been saying almost from the start.
Here's some local coverage of the decision. And here's a good AP article that appeared on the WaPo's website yesterday:
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the measure for at least two weeks, but the evidence suggests many Hispanics- illegal or otherwise- have already left.
That, in turn, has hobbled the city's Hispanic business district, where some shops have closed and others are struggling to stay open.
"Before, it was a nice place," said Soto, 27, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic a decade ago. "Now, we have a war against us. I am legal but I feel the pressure also."
Pennsylvania native Kim Lopez and her husband, Rudy, a Mexican immigrant, closed their grocery store Oct. 1 after business tailed off dramatically over the summer. They lost more than $10,000- their life savings.
"Everyone was running scared and left town," said Lopez, 39. "We had customers who came in who were legal citizens and they didn't want the harassment and hassle and told us they were leaving."
Andy in H-burg