Thursday, November 02, 2006

Federal Judge Grants Restraining Order Blocking Hazleton Ordinance

From The Hazleton Standard-Speaker

Tuesday, 31 October 2006
Federal Judge James Munley issued a temporary restraining order blocking Hazleton from enforcing both the Illegal Immigration Relief Act and the Landlords Tenant Registration Act Tuesday evening.
Opponents of both ordinances asked for an injunction Tuesday, a day before the city prepared to begin registering renters. They got a restraining order, which is similar to an injunction, except that it’s temporary.
The hearing on the request was held at 2 p.m., but Munley did not rule from the bench. Instead, he issued an order about five hours later. In his 13-page opinion, Munley ruled that landlords, tenants and businesses who cater to Hispanics faced “irreparable harm” from the ordinances.
“We find it in the public interest to protect residents’ access to homes, education, jobs and businesses,” Munley wrote.
He added the city “offers only vague generalizations about the crime allegedly caused by illegal immigrants, but has nothing concrete to back up these claims,” and that the plaintiffs have a “reasonable probability” of getting the laws declared unconstitutional.
The restraining order expires on Nov. 14. While he hasn’t scheduled a hearing on the opponents’ request for a temporary injunction – which would bar the city from enforcing either ordinance until the crux of the case is decided – he indicated he’d schedule one before the order expires.
The action means neither tenants nor landlords have to register with the city, for now.
The injunction followed by one day a lawsuit that claims the immigration act is unconstitutional.
Private attorneys, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on Monday.
Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, called Munley’s order an important victory.
“I think what’s important is the judge recognized that this ordinance has the potential to cause real harm by costing people their jobs, their houses and requiring children to leave schools,” Walczak said.
The city’s case was argued by city Solicitor Chris Slusser and attorney Andrew Adair, from Deasey, Mahoney and Bender, a Philadelphia law firm appointed by the city’s errors and omissions insurance carrier.
“I’m not discouraged,” Mayor Lou Barletta said after the hearing. “They may have delayed the enforcement for now, but this too shall pass. We’ve only begun to fight.”
Barletta said he thought Tuesday’s order was the “first step” in the process that will see the challenge work its way to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court.
Prior to the injunction, municipal workers set up an office on the third floor of City Hall from which they planned to issue occupancy permits required under the landlord tenant act.
To obtain a permit, renters were to pay $10 and submit identification such as a U.S. Passport or birth certificate to prove that they are United States citizens. Non-citizens were to show resident cards proving that they are in the country legally.
Former Hazleton Fire Chief T.J. Powell emerged from retirement to staff the office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays.
According to a schedule proposed before the injunction began, residents had to obtain permits depending on where they live. The city planned to begin enforcing the landlord tenant ordinance in phases.
The plan gave tenants living south of Broad Street until Dec. 1 to obtain a permit.
Residents of the streets northwest of Diamond Avenue between Wyoming and Boundary streets had until Jan. 1, 2007.
The deadlines were Feb. 1, 2007, for residents of streets northeast of Diamond Avenue between Wyoming and Thompson streets and March 1 for residents living between Broad Street and Diamond Avenue.
If residents move to a new rental dwelling, they are to obtain a new permit.
Landlords who rent to tenants without occupancy permits may be fined $1,000 plus $100 a day through the landlord tenant act.
The Illegal Immigration Relief Act says landlords can lose their rental licenses if they rent to an illegal immigrant, and they face fines of $250 for a second offense.
For businesses that employ illegal residents, the immigration act imposes penalties, too.
The company can lose its license as long as illegal immigrants remain on the payroll. For a second offense, the company loses its license for 20 days and faces lawsuits from legal workers who lose wages during shutdowns.
Hazleton’s Code Office is preparing to mail applications for renewing business licenses to firms this month. In addition to the applications, the envelopes will contain affidavits that businesses will sign to indicate that they will follow the immigration act.
While the city hadn’t begun enforcement yet, the immigration act already has had effects since its introduction this summer. City Council adopted an act in August, which drew a challenge from the Civil Liberties Union and other opponents. Council amended the act in September, and the opponents amended their court challenge this week.
Across the country, municipalities have discussed emulating Hazleton’s act, which is based on a proposal from San Bernardino, Calif.
Barletta, who has spoken to a U.S. Senate panel and done interviews with national media, said the act motivated illegal residents to leave Hazleton.
Marisol Velez, an Hispanic-American who lived in Hazleton for 15 years, said the act caused tension between ethnic groups.
At a car wash for a church youth group the Velez leads, three whites insulted the car-washers by saying things such as “I’ll donate to your fund when you learn English,” or “This is America. Go back to your country.”
“It is disgusting that these people turned against my youth who are leading Christian lives and are active parts of this community,” Velez wrote in a letter to the Standard-Speaker.
The reception was positive, however, when the young people dressed in Halloween costumes and went to St. Luke Manor last weekend to spend time with residents.
“The residents did not ask them what was their race or if they were legal citizens. We laughed. We played bingo, and enjoyed each other’s company as if we were family,” Velez wrote.


Blogger Paul Tay said...

This ordinance is very familiar to my mom and dad. They lived in a third-rate third world crap hole, aka Burma, ruled by a bunch of dirty despots masquerading as benign royalty.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

Paul, I don't think this is the same thing at all. Illegal aliens, while they may be wonderful people and for that matter may have good reason for the fleeing their country or origin are still ILLEGAL ALIENS. We live in a country built upon the government by consent of the governed. Implicit in that concept is the fact government by consent cannot function with a population that does not recognize the validity of the government. The very presence of illegal aliens is a defacto statement that they do not recognize the validity of the government regarding their citizenship.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

I am speaking of the literal language of the law. Word for word in translation is EXACTLY the same. You are speaking of the target party.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

Let's try that last again. Major typo. Well Paul, almost every nation in the world has a law against homicide and a lot of them would translate very close to each other. That doesn't mean that homicide LAWS are bad just because bad governments have homicide laws on the books

8:44 AM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

Mr. Tay has sent me several messages trying to post a comment in which he makes the following assertions:

(1) Homicide is not the same as activities of illegal aliens.

(2) The goverment has no right to make otherwise legal acts illegal under certain cited cases.

Mr. Tay's response misses the point on both. First, I was not comparing renting by illegals to homicide as morally eqivalent acts. I was simply stating that bad and immoral governments may have laws on their books that are textually similar to the laws of good governments and that does not mean that the law itself is bad.

Second, Mr. Tay's due process analysis does not quote the whole pertinent clause Fourteent Amendment which states:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It is obvious from the first sentence that Fourteen Amendment rights are intended for CITIZENS of the United States. ILLEGAL ALIENS are by definition not citizens.

Every nation has the right to control its borders and regulate its citizenry. If it has people within its borders who are neither citizens nor allowed visitors it has the right and the duty to deport them. Beyond basic human rights such as the right to be free from torture, etc. these people have no rights except the right to a ride to the border under humane conditions.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Mr. Kumpe, I'm all for enforcing our immigration laws. My biggest concern is when government promulgates residency registration laws, it affects EVERYONE, including citizens. These renters registration laws are kinda like the seat belt laws. Cop stops the perp for not wearing seat belts. Then, lo-n-behold, cop senses something suspicious on the perp. Next thing, ya know, game over. Indeed, the police publically justify enforcing traffic laws, that to most of us law-abiding citizens consider onerous and silly, as a way catch the really bad guys. I have a REAL problem with any sort of registration laws, because I've seen them GONE WILD.

My take on the illegal alien issue is first, the term, illegal alien, is technically incorrect. The term is undocumented workers. Second, yes, laws are being broken. What are we gonna do about it? I have not heard ONE viable solution. Build an 20 foot fence. They have a 21 foot ladder. Round them up and deport them all? Heck, we don't even have room in our prisons for our own people. You speak of enforcement. How? With what resources? Yes, if an undocumented worker commits a crime such as murder, the police should arrest them, and the DA should charge them under INTERNATIONAL law, if in fact homicide is a criminal act all countries recognize.

2:19 PM  

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