Ruling stalls laws in other municipalities
Friday, 27 July 2007
By JIM DINO and LESLIE RICHARDSON
The Standard Speaker
A number of area municipal officials wanted to enact illegal immigration laws like Hazletons, but were waiting to see what the U.S. District Court decision would be.
When that decision did not go the citys way Thursday, elected officials in most municipalities said they will not follow through with their own laws.
But that doesnt mean the idea is dead.
Thats because they know Thursdays decision against Hazleton Mayor Lou Barettas Illegal Immigration Relief Act is not the final word on the issue.
In Kline Township, Supervisor Nick Sanko championed the approval of an ordinance there and had a specific reason for doing so.
I feel the exactly the same way as Lou Barletta does illegal is illegal, Sanko said. The illegals have come in here and raised our school taxes.
I dont understand what the government is looking at, Sanko continued. There are thousands of people in this country illegally. If they come in and follow the procedures legally, thats fine. But illegal is illegal.
Sanko wanted the supervisors to approve an ordinance similar to Hazletons, but the supervisors waited.
Approving such a law would get the federal government to sit up and take notice, Sanko said he hoped.
I believe the more towns that have it, will help Mayor Barletta, Sanko said. The more municipalities that take action, the government will pay more attention to it.
In Freeland, Mayor Tim Martin had been lobbying council to consider the ordinance, but it didnt.
But Martin said he believes there are a lot of municipal officials across the country who want such a law, at least the landlord section of it.
Small towns like ours dont have to money for any potential litigation, Martin said. But there are hundreds of small towns across America like ours. Even with a moving permit (ordinance), its hard for towns like ours to keep track of who moves in and out. Landlords will have someones name on a lease, but there will be eight people living in the home. I wish we could get a better idea.
In August, West Mahanoy Township passed a similar version of Hazletons ordinance.
If they can come up with a better solution, I could see them striking it down, Joseph Sweeney, chairman of the West Mahanoy Township supervisors, said Thursday. I think they are sitting on their hands. Barletta worked hard on it and it is a shame, an outright disgrace. Other boroughs and townships passing this should show how much it was supported. We have got to be able to continue to run your borough, your streets, your townships and monitor what goes on there. I would fight them tooth and nail if I were him. Im behind him 100 percent and I hope he doesnt give up the fight.
Mahanoy Township passed an Illegal immigration ordinance in August as well.
I think they should all hang their heads in shame, Supervisor Chairwoman Sharon Chiao said Thursday. It is a dishonor to every person that came here legally and followed the rules. The judges, congressmen, anyone who had a part in striking this down should hang their heads.
It is time we started doing our part our take our country back, Chiao added. I am devastated.
Chiao was unsure what the decision would mean to the ordinance put into place by Mahanoy Township.
I dont know what it will mean for our ordinance but I do know that it doesnt mean we arent going to keep trying to make things right, Chiao said.
The Borough of Gilberton passed their illegal immigrant ordinance on Aug 24.
Im disgusted, Gilberton Mayor Mary Lou Hannon said Thursday about the decision. I think that judge ought to invite all the illegal immigrants up to his community and see what happens.
Hannon said the Gilberton ordinance remains on the books.
I am hoping they appeal todays decision. Barletta said he will take it as far as it will go, Hannon said. I am confident someone will rule on it down the line to protect the American citizens buy ruling in favor of this ordinance.
Hannon said the borough did not have a problem with illegal immigrants, but followed suit with other boroughs and Hazleton.
Illegals usually hide out in small communities, Hannon said.
In McAdoo, borough council had approved the landlord portion of Barlettas ordinance, but hadnt enforced it pending Thursdays decision.
Councilman Brian Kolbush said that since the decision declared the ordinance unconstitutional, council members would look to the borough solicitor for advice on what to do next.
Hazle Township had approved the ordinance, then revoked it a few weeks later.
Now, township Solicitor Charles Pedri everything is on hold.
Until the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals (the appellate court where the city will appeal Thursdays decision) tells us to the contrary, we will not do a thing in Hazle Township, Pedri said.
Weatherly got the idea for a landlord/tenant ordinance because of the citys actions, but Councilman Tom Connors said the Weatherly law has nothing to do with illegal immigration.
We were waiting to see what was going to go on in Hazleton, Connors said. Our ordinance has nothing to do with immigration, so it doesnt matter what happens with Hazleton.
Mahanoy City became the first municipality in Schuylkill County to pass a version of the Hazleton act on Aug. 8, 2006. Several others in the county soon followed their lead.
We never enforced it because we were waiting for the decision to come down, Borough Council President Thomas Oblas said Thursday. We still have it on the books until it is deemed illegal. I understand they will appeal it so we will wait and see what happens.
Oblas said the borough never really had a problem with illegal immigrants.
I think everyone worried about the fallout of people from the Hazleton area moving down here, so we passed the ordinance to protect our community, Oblas said.
Shenandoah advertised its ordinance in September, but held off after Hazletons ordinance was challenged.
Frackville advertised its ordinance in October but Solicitor Mark Semanchick suggested it be tabled until December. It was not brought up at any following meeting.
East Union Township is still discussing a proposal made in November but has made no decision to advertise the ordinance after Solicitor Frank R. Cori cautioned that the Hazleton ordinance was still in litigation.