Xenophobia in Hazleton, Pennsylvania
Assuming, arguendo, that illegal immigration is a serious problem in Hazleton, a dubious assertion at best, a much bigger problem is the fact that this ordinance is being used as a vehicle for persecuting Latinos in Hazleton who are United States citizens and legal residents. As I noted in a previous blog post, it is not uncommon for xenophobes to conflate legal immigration with illegal immigration, not to mention minority status, so it should come as no surprise that the Hazleton ordinance has succeeded in polarizing the White and Latino communities there.
Legal challenges to the Hazleton ordinance are already being launched, but legal challenges stand little chance of changing the hearts and minds of the mean-spirited and ignorant xenophobes who supported the passage of this ordinance. Moreover, this ordinance is already being used as a template for other ordinances in other cities all over the United States, and it will no doubt have the same polarizing effect in many of those other cities. Even if congress passes some sort of comprehensive immigration reform bill that unequivocally invalidates all such local ordinances, it is truly a dark day for civil rights in America.