Monday, March 12, 2007

"If you speak English, you're not a criminal."

In the afternoon session at the Hazleton anti-immigrant trial, three Hazleton residents testified that the ordinance negatively impacted life in the city.

"Everything has totally changed," said local businessman Jose Lechuga, who noted that racism and "hatred" became more prominent after the passing of the ordinance.

Through an interpreter, Lechuga talked about his neighbor, who previously seemed to trust him. "One day I asked her what she thought of Mr. Barletta's ordinances," he said. "She said that if you speak English, you're not a criminal."

Lechuga also talked about an incident in which several men followed him into his store and told him that he would have to change his signs from Spanish to English. "I wondered what was going on, why would I have to change my signs."

Immediately after the lunch break and before Lechuga's testimony, Dr. Agapito Lopez talked about the change in the Latino community after the passing of the ordinance. "You could see the fear in their eyes."

Dr. Lopez also addressed the impact on the entire Latino community--citizens, documented, and undocumented.

"Latinos are like a family," Dr. Lopez said. "What affects one of us affects all of us."

This point in particular seems lost on the nearly-all-white defense team, which has worked tirelessly this first day to draw lines between undocumented immigrants (or "illegal aliens," to use their words) and citizens and documented immigrants.

On cross-examination, defense counsel asked Lechuga if the customers of his grocery store were documented and undocumented immigrants.

"I don't think that's my job to find out," Lechuga replied.

Throughout the afternoon, the defense team has attempted to show that the Lechuga's businesses were failing before the ordinance and that documented immigrants had nothing to fear from the new law. The testimony of Dr. Lopez and Mr. Lechuga, along with Rosa Lechuga, Jose's wife, and Pedro Lozano, who also testified this afternoon, made it clear that there was a marked difference in the business climate and the neighborhood environment after the passing of the ordinance last summer.

In fact, the Lechugas have lived in Hazleton since 1991 but are currently in the process of relocating to Arkansas.

When proceedings ended for the day, our team briefly addressed the media and addressed yet another change to the ordinance, which defense counsel referred to in its opening statement.

Both ACLU-PA legal director Vic Walczak and ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said that the change doesn't affect the impact of the ordinance.

"The ordinance turned the city into a climate of xenophobia," Romero said. "It turned citizen against citizen.

"The intent of the ordinance was to promote discrimination."

Andy in Harrisburg in Scranton

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Alan said...

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date!

Who is the legal team for the defense? Is the city using its own legal resources? Or have they brought in some outside help?

I also wonder if the Mayor/councel had the city's legal team review the legislation for constitutionality before passing it, or were they just shooting from the hip.

Keep up the great work! I have always been sympathetic to the ACLU, but was never a member. Because of your efforts in Dover and in Hazleton, I decided to make a contribution and become a "card carrying member."

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the ordinance is a matter of discrimination, the discrimination between citizens and illegal aliens, which is clearly within the law. That discrimination is applied under the immigration laws which require their deportation. Clearly, the ACLU has no interest in supporting the laws of this land and has been co-opted by the illegal advocacy groups. It's also clear that the affected businesses were only successful because their clientel were illegal aliens. If the town had been raided, and cleared of all illegal aliens, the result would have been the same.

Let's look at it another way. If ICE did their job and followed the law and actually arrested all of illegal aliens in Hazelton, the advocacy groups, ACLU and illegal aliens would still rant about the unfairness of actually enforcing the law. It's disigenuous to believe otherwise. These people like the laws that work their way and work against law and order when it works against their interests. These people aren't staunch supporters of our Constitutionally enacted laws, but mockers of them.

It is also clear to anyone who reads the Consititution, that the federal government does not have plenary power over immigration. The Constitution does give the federal government plenary power over the establishment of naturalization laws, but that's not the same thing. The states that were united under the Articles of Confederation never ceded their authority to govern immigration within their boundaries as the result of Constitutional Convention of 1787. It may seem like a good idea today, due the way our country has developed, but that's up to the people to change through the Amendment process. Naturalization authority was assigned to the federal government when the Constitution was enacted because of the diversity of rules that existed among the states under the Articles of Confederation. Someone please correct me it I'm wrong.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The acts of a few mean spirtited individuals is not relevent to the case. The case involves Hazelton's right to protect its legal residents against the socioeconomic affects of those who are not entitled to reside within its community. Under federal law, illegal aliens are entitled to humane treatment while they're here, due process and subsequent deportation, and nothing more.

The preamble of the Constitution clearly states that the citizen and his progeny have primacy over all others, include illegal aliens and foreigners. I quote from that illustrious document "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Clearly "ourselves" means those with the likeminded philosophy of the Founding Fathers, and their "Posterity" was meant to apply to their future generations. By reserving the right to vote to the citizen, the Founding Fathers assured that control of their destiny wouldn't wrested from them by foreigners with ill will or values radically different from their own.

The advocacy groups, ACLU and Mexican government are clearly attempting to blur the line between illegal aliens and citizens. Everyday there's a new right demanded, be it banking privileges, driver's licenses, giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens, when out of state citizens pay full tuition, credit cards, mortgages for new homes, all with the intent to establish ties to a country which has declared by the will of the citizen through his laws, that their presence is illegitimate. By its complicity, the ACLU has declared war on our democratic principles. I long for the days when the ACLU protected the rights of the citizen, as it did during the Civil Rights Movement.

The ACLU and our politicians pander to ethnocentric interest groups whose stated policy is to give amnesty and citizenship to foreigners, and gain political power through overwhelming numbers of new voters. Latino's already have the highest birthrate in the nation, but advocacy groups are not satisfied with march of time, as they wish to hasten it by demanding special treatment for their friends and family who they've smuggled across the border.

Warning to the ACLU: You are attempting to force the presence of illegal aliens down the throats of the small town local citizenry by pulling the race card, and in so doing, risk alienation of the country at large. There's a difference between the race hating South of the KKK and the citizens of Hazleton and the myriad of communities on the verge of following their example. Does it matter to you, ACLU, that these small towns have sincere and legitimate motives in their actions, and that they are not related to race? It appears that you believe that specious rights of illegal aliens have greater weight. Get back on track ACLU, because you've lost the support of the average law abiding citizen and many supporters.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan, your support of illegal aliens will only get you a higher tax bill. The great influx of unassimilatable Latinos will result in a host of problems.

I enumerate:

1. High auto insurance for citizens. Millions of uninsured motorist illegal alien farm workers do not earn enough to pay for auto insurance. As the result, you will be paying higher uninsured motorist bills than otherwise.

2. Higher state and local taxes, property and otherwise. You'll have to make up for the cost of social services, ESL teachers, and health care for amnestied aliens. These already cost the taxpayer billions every year, and with chain migration permitted by citizenship, the problem only multiplys as the ignorant and poverty stricken families emigrate from Latin America.

3. Higher federal taxes. You will pay for the entire cost of the administering the guest worker program on behalf of employers that will be exploiting cheap labor. This will cost several billion dollars.

4. Law enforcement. Millions of Latino gang members and criminals who prey upon migrants have already crossed the border. The cost of prosecuting, and incarcerating these people is already in the billions of dollars. These people will remain in the shaddows, regardless of amnesty, as they fear prosecution.

5. Early demise of social security. Adding millions of poor to the rolls of Social Security will bankrupt it prematurely. It is well known that the poor take much more out of that entitlement than they put in. Adding more poor will only expedite that disaster.

6. Decline in the literacy rate. Adding millions of Mexicans with 7th grade educations works against our objective as a nation to become educated and competetive on the world market. Do you think that any other country in the world other than the U.S. would import ignorance as a matter of policy?

I could go on and on, because the disadvantages that these intruders pose is almost endless.

Buy your membership if it makes you feel good, but don't expect any reward for your money.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illegal is illegal!!!!
We cannot run a civilized society by just letting everyone cross over our border. There are billions of people around the world that are poorer then Mexicans. It is rascist to think Mexicans have the right to walk over and eventually gain amnesty. millions around teh world try to come here legally, including many Mexicans. Yes the system needs to be fixed, but that does not mean it is ok for those to take it into their own hands and walk over the border, with no regard for our law, it is a total disregard.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

First of all "illegal is illegal" is just not the case. It is "not legal" to welch out on your debts, but we don't call people who are in financial trouble "illegal debtors" and we don't throw them in jail. A long time ago we did, and it was not the best way to handle the problem. We got rid of debtor's prisons and we don't consider getting in over your head finacially a crime. To do so would cause more problems than it would solve.

This is true of economic migrants. Their status is not criminal. The laws that govern this "offense" are administrative not criminal. They are NOT "illegal aliens", they are economic migrants.

As far as my tax bills are concerned, I am fully convinced that economic migrants are here as much for my benefit as they are for theirs. This is called "Regan-omics"! The better the economy, the more tax revenue is generated.

The solution to this "issue" is to drop the petty, small town prejudices and come up with policies that are humane and acknowledge the economic realities. America is not a jerk-water, third world economy. We ARE the global economy. Wake up, grow up, and get real.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan,

Good for you! The IRS can have a tax form charity checkoff for you to voluntarily pay for the huge medical bills that are entailed with the importation of millions of new Mexican families of five or six that will use the emergency room as their primary health care provider. If you think that you benefit from their presence, then step up to the plate and throw them your personal financial support, just don't think that you can drag the rest of the country into your socialist plan without a fight.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon. said: your socialist plan

As I said, my plan is based on Reaganomics, "a term that has been used to both describe and decry the free market advocacy economic policies of U.S. President Ronald Reagan."

About as far from socialism as you can get!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaganomics

12:20 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

There's way too much here to try to answer it all, but I do want to comment on this:

"I long for the days when the ACLU protected the rights of the citizen, as it did during the Civil Rights Movement."

It's nice to have 50 years of hindsight. The goals of the civil rights movement enjoy wide acceptance today, but the fact is that it was just as controversial then to stand up for African-Americans as it is today to stand up for immigrants.

Also, there's this:

"Early demise of social security. Adding millions of poor to the rolls of Social Security will bankrupt it prematurely. It is well known that the poor take much more out of that entitlement than they put in. Adding more poor will only expedite that disaster."

In fact, the social security system is being bolstered by people who are putting money in today but will never collect on it in the future. Undocumented immigrants use false social security numbers, and some immigrants are putting money in now but will not collect because they will spend their senior years out of the country.

And one last thing. Whenever I hear people complain about the impact of undocumented immigrants on healthcare costs, I assume they support universal healthcare since there are 45 million Americans without health insurance. (That's not an ACLU issue. It's just a personal opinion.)

Andy

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy said: "In fact, the social security system is being bolstered by people who are putting money in today but will never collect on it in the future. Undocumented immigrants use false social security numbers, and some immigrants are putting money in now but will not collect because they will spend their senior years out of the country.

And one last thing. Whenever I hear people complain about the impact of undocumented immigrants on healthcare costs, I assume they support universal healthcare since there are 45 million Americans without health insurance. (That's not an ACLU issue. It's just a personal opinion.)"

Our immigration laws are designed to keep out people who would likely become burdens on the citizens of this country, but that's a concept you are bent on destroying by your obstructionist actions.

Andy, I thought the idea of your advocacy groups was to give amnesty to the 20 million or so illegal immigrants, so in fact there would eventually be that many new poor who would collect Social Security benefits beyond what they put in, as is now done by our current citizen poor.

Whether there is universal health care or not, I would hope that most Americans would pay into it. As it stands, illegal aliens are socioeconomic parasites who do not pay for health care, do not pay sufficient taxes to support their share of health care or school system infrastructures. There is plenty of documentation to prove this to be the case. While we should take care of U.S. citizens under a national health care plan, I'm sure that most Americans would object to paying the health care costs of uninvited foreigners,or take them on as new obligations under amnesty.

And on what do you base your argument that these illegal aliens will spend their senior years out of the country? Even if they leave the country, if they had been amnestied, they would by law then be able to collect Social Security, regardless of where they reside.

The last thing we need is a burgeoning welfare system to support Latin Americans who typically earn poverty level wages and suffer from the culture of having four or five children that they can hardly feed and clothe. They don't believe in birth control, because most are Catholic, and there is no guarantee that they will give up strict adherence to religious doctrine just because they move to this country.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

alan said: "They are NOT "illegal aliens", they are economic migrants."

Actually, CFR Title 8 defines those who cross our borders ilicitly or overstay their visas, as illegal aliens. If we are to remain a nation of laws and not men, then we must adhere to the correct terminology of our laws, as to do otherwise is contriving to be politically correct, which is another way of saying delusionary.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's nice to have 50 years of hindsight. The goals of the civil rights movement enjoy wide acceptance today, but the fact is that it was just as controversial then to stand up for African-Americans as it is today to stand up for immigrants."

Actually, the plight of illegal immigrants is not one of civil rights. They are entitled to every civil right except the right to vote, while in this country. However, they are not entitled to the right to stay in this country, and that is the only possible issue that you could be referring to. And you know what, illegal aliens will never be given the right to determine whether they may do so. So, I ask you, just what rights for illegal aliens are you standing up for?

6:57 PM  

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