Monday, March 12, 2007

Live from Scranton

The following is the first dispatch from the ACLU staff attending the Hazleton trial in Scranton:

The trial challenging Hazleton's anti-immigrant ordinance started today in Scranton in northeast PA with ACLU-PA legal director Witold "Vic" Walczak calling Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta an "opportunistic mayor" and the "chief story teller" in his opening statement, leading the mayor to bite his lip at one point and laugh at another.

Calling the ordinance "a shortcut through the U.S. Constitution," Vic noted that the city has every right to weigh in on the immigration debate "but cannot pass laws to regulate immigration."

Vic showed two tales of one city with the mayor’s belief that all that ails Hazleton is a result of undocumented immigrants and the Latino community's belief that they have revitalized the city. "The mayor's claims cannot be backed up by empirical evidence," Vic said.

As recently as October, at a PA Press Club meeting, Barletta claimed that statistics are "for outsiders." But in the defendants' open, counsel Kris Kobach noted that there were three arrests of "illegal aliens" in 2004, five in 2005, and 19 in 2006. Defense counsel went through a long outline of reasons why he feels Hazleton is within the bounds of the Constitution. It was like listening to an evolutionary biologist spend hours talking about the bacterial flagellum. Not that I know anyone who has had to go through that torture.

The plaintiffs' first witness, Dr. Agapito Lopez, took the stand this morning and stated that Hazleton was "a ghost town" when he arrived in 2001. Dr. Lopez was in the middle of cross-examination at the lunch break.

Andy in Harrisburg in Scranton

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, a little one sided...but I guess that is to be expected.

Question, definition of empirical evidence? ACLU says there is none, and the city provided evidence showing the steady increase in crimes by "illegal aliens".

Question? why put illegal aliens in quotes, is this an attempt to make it seem that "illegal aliens" are some sort of questionable concept that doesn't really exist?

Seems to me that a town without any illegal aliens would not have crime caused by same? 19 crimes by illegal aliens sounds pretty empirical to me? Rebuttal?

Anyway, the reporting is appreciated. Stay as neutral as possible if you can in the initial reporting - "just the facts, Jack", we'll save the commentary for the comments back and forth. Thanks -art

6:28 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Yes, please don't come here expecting us to say, "Hmmm, maybe the defense has a point." :)

As for the stats, glad you asked. In the time period referred to in which the defense cited 27 arrests of undocumented immigrants, we have "evidence of thousands of crimes," according to our legal team. I would consider that empirical evidence...that is, empirical evidence that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes are not bringing the city to its knees.

It's also noteworthy that 10 of those 27 arrests were related to two cases.

As for putting "illegal aliens" in quotes, I did that because that's the phrase they use, but we do not use that phrase.


9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep putting "illegal aliens" in quotes. Economic migrants aren't criminals - the laws against migration are administrative, not criminal. If you violate the speed limit you are more of a criminal than is an economic migrant.

Can anyone keep a stright face and claim that Hazelton was trying to clean up a crime wave with this law? Let's be frank, Art, this law is in place because the white folkes were getting uncomfortable with the number of brown folks they've been seeing around town. They are small-town people with small-town prejudices. If the economic migrants wern't ethnically / racially distinct no one would have even noticed.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings guys,

A couple of things, Hazelton isn't that large a place, I grew up about 40 miles from there. Thousands of crimes... Sounds like the big city.

I just tuned in on the details. Does it really matter if those here not legally add 19 crimes, or 200 crimes, or if Hazelton has hundreds of other, or thousands of other crimes, if you are one of the victims.

I'm sure the situation there is alot better, in terms of illegal aliens committing crimes than out here in southern california, where there are literally tens of thousands of illegals in jails for serious crimes.

Personally, we need to fix the immigration problem. We don't allow enough immigrants in legally, etc., but it is out of control when more than 10% of the workforce, in California, is here illegally.

Meantime, the costs are staggering, and everyone is paying. These are rough numbers, and relate to why we do need to fix the problem, and if the feds won't do it, well someone has to.

In California a shiny new high school costs about $150 million to build. Most school building in So. Cal is due to the huge number of immigrants, the vast majority are illegal. Rough numbers would indicate that if the number of illegals coming in were halved, then the construction costs would drop by about as much, and daily spending on students could increase by over 20%, per student, a huge increase. At the same time non-English students cost the system almost 30% more if I recall, than those who speak English as a first language. Now I realize that includes legal and illegal folks, and, as I said, we do need to dramatically increase legal immigration, so all of these costs don't go away.

Still in a world where everything costs so much that almost no one can afford to set aside savings, it's just one place to start.

I have several good friends who are hispanic, some on both sides of the issue. I belong to a previously oppressed minority, and have felt prejudice many times.

Still, the problem falls to Hazelton, and everywhere else, until the Government does it's job.

It's too bad, because it is making a mess of people's lives, legal and not, but the problem must be addressed.

Andy, why not. (I saw your :) ) This is too ugly, on both sides. Everyone who is in favor of what Hazelton is doing, are typically called racists, hate mongers, etc. People on their side call people on the other side criminals, and people who think laws are only for others...

What we really need is some open minded discussion. That's why I tossed in my two cents after finding this site, looking for info on what was going on.

If congress could get together, and come up with an intelligent guest worker program, and some real enforcement, that makes practical sense. (Throw every one of the real criminals out, figure out a way that almost everyone else could stay, works for me.

But this stuff will continue until that happens. The Democrats and Republicans are at equal fault here, but with presidential elections now 2 year processes, etc., it's unlikely we even will have a chance for any legislation for at least 2 and a half years.

Andy, keep up the work, I'll be back, I figure your commentary can't be any worse than the press, which sensationalizes everything.

Alan, it is a crime to be here without papers, the punishment, by law, is deportation. Failure to report for deportation is a crime punishable by jail time. Sneaking across the border, is also a criminal offense...

Doesn't matter, per say, we are screwing with semantics. As to the 27 arrests - two cases? Gang related? With 20,000+ gang members in LA alone that are undocumented aliens (better than "illegal aliens"?) the crime is there, and the potential is growing.

Hazelton never claimed that crime was the only reason, the primary statements related to the fact that Hazelton's costs were soaring due to the large number of undocumented aliens. All kinds of costs, putting hardship on local citizens (the folks that pay taxes).

Unless Hazelton has changed dramatically, I would suspect that it's population is aging (excluding undocumented persons), further adding to the hardship those people have to bear, if the city has to hire more police (even one or two), spend more money on all types of public services to support the undocumented persons - especially the huge cost to school systems.

The numbers here in California are numbing. The costs are in the many Billions of $. Of course we are a big state, but it still works out to $1000s per household...

My point, is that this isn't about crime only, nor about racism, or people being comfortable. As usual, it's about money. And the costs are huge, and the people here legally are currently expected: For every 24 people who "belong" who are here legally (born or otherwise), those 24 people now have to pay for all the social services of 1 extra person, and at that, a particularly expensive extra person, usually due to language/education, etc.

So, let's be nice and solve the problem. It's a money thing, not a hate thing. The press will always play the hate card, the tragedy card, the sensational card, whatever it is. As they say - it sells newspapers... -art

ps sorry for the long distracted ramble. -a

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art, The reason that we don't have a reasonable immegration policy, and the reason we don't have a rational discussion is the VERY REAL fact that hate and racism drives so many of the people who preceive this as a problem. That hate is not the creation of the press. I think that is becoming more evident as more people post to this site.

The way to get past the stailmate is to remove the racists hysteria from the discussion. Once we acknowledge that they are real, and nutralize them politically, progress will be easy.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The only reason that there cannot be a rational discussion on the illegal immigration issue is that the law is inarguable. Title 8 of the CFR is clear as to who is and who is not entitled to be present in this country. These are Consitutionally valid laws enacted by the will of the people by our Congress. It is we who are in the right when it comes to the law.

The current arguments made by advocacy groups is no different than that of relatives of burglars trying to make the case that their loved ones are not guilty of stealing because they needed to put a TV in the den and a leg of lamb on the table for their families. The culprits are clearly guilty of the crimes, and no arguing with those who have the law on their side is going to change their position. Those of us against illegal immigration do not believe in appeasing illegal aliens and their conspirators by granting amnesty just because they managed to cross the border in overwhelming numbers. To do so is capitulating to mob rule. Because we are uncompromising, we are called racists, hate-filled and anti-immigrant. Why we're called anti-immigrant is beyond me, as those of us who believe in CFR Title 8, believe in immigration as provided for in that law.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hazleton is right in its position on crime. If the federal government had been doing its job, the illegal aliens wouldn't have been present to commit the crime. While we may have to tolerate the presence of citizen criminals in our country, we certainly don't have to tolerate foreign national criminals. This is similar in concept to the idea that if the state prison failed to distinguish between visitors and criminals and some of the latter were allowed to escape due to the guards negligence. The guard in this case is the federal government who failed to do its duty and guard the border adequately. Under CFR Title 8, criminals are screened from the set of persons allowed legal residence status. While the borders remain open, anyone, including criminals can and do pass through. Where my example departs from illegal immigration is that under the law it is our right as citizens not to suffer the presence of excludable foreign nationals, regardless of whether they have or have not commited a crime.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for putting "illegal aliens" in quotes, I did that because that's the phrase they use, but we do not use that phrase."

I see, this is one of those dirty unmnentionables, like clitoris, intercouse and penis that people substitute euphamisms for on behalf of their children because they think they can't handle it. A massive body of Hispanics become illegal aliens and all of a sudden we have to change our language to accommodate them. Must not offend those who've shown contempt for our immigration laws. Bad form. Maybe enough convicts will get together in protest and we'll change their status to "freedom challenged". You probably pretend that the code of federal regulations prohibiting illegal immigration doesn't exist, and that it doesn't use the term illegal alien. It's been used in that body of law for decades and no one but the pathetically politically correct are affraid to use it. Grow up! I'd like to know how you avoid it in a legal brief. Do you lawyers go through the federal code line by line to edit it accordingly? Have you got your own specially edited dictionary with unacceptable words blotted out?

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hazelton is one small speck of the illegal alien problem. Wait until Castro dies....let Hugo Chavez keep taking more power in'll see. South Florida is being crushed financially because of the burden on schools, hospitals, water supply, etc.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. The socialists will run their economies to the ground, driving millions north. Even the bleeding heart illegal alien huggers will be crying uncle. The ACLU and the other fools who spout Emma Lazarus will regret what they've wrought.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just let me know when the ACLU lawyers are heading south help the White Minority start suing for discrimination.

It's not enough in Miami-Dade county to read, write and speak English. Certain employers (banks, departments stores...) expect you to be bilingual, or you are not "as qualified" as someone who speaks broken English, because you have to serve people who haven't learned or prefer to speak Spanish.

Small reminder--the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence were all written in English.

Let me know when ya'll are coming south. I won't hold my breath.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got it all wrong anonymous. Andy can't say "illegal aliens" because his puppet masters at the ACLU will tweak his nose if he does.

Seriously, Alan and the ACLU detest the words because though it's a fact of law, and admitting the legitimacy of the term puts them manifestly on the side of promulgating illegal behavior. As long they can promote and substitute it with the words "undocumented" immigrants they can feed on their delusion that they are helping people with a legitimate argument against the local, state and federal governments. Isn't it pathetic?

6:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We are importing and exporting more goods and services more often than ever before - we have opened our borders economically, and there are things we like about that, and things we don't like about that.

People in every country, including ours are left trying to make sense of it all. And it's hard.

I have trouble listening to people criticizing "small town people with small town sensibilities".

EVERYONE who works for a living is working harder, longer hours for less pay and fewer benefits. That stinks. That stinks for white folks, brown folks, black folks...

The question is - who has the power to change that? The boss. The politician. The guy with the the checkbook and the pen.

Everything is so hard and confusing, it's easy to fall for political BS that distracts us from focusing our anger at those who really have power to change policy. We look like fools jumping on a band wagon if we are not holding politicians accountable for supporting all working people by demanding business do better by ALL employees.

If all working people decided to focus on one fight - for a better deal from corporations who exploit everyone they can - I bet we would be less interested in fighting each other.

2:24 PM  

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