Friday, July 14, 2006

Xenophobia in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

While exploring the blogosphere for commentary on the issue of whether the minimum wage should be raised, I came across another article at Moderate that caught my eye. That article summarized a story in the Los Angeles Times, dateline Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which narrated the fact that Hazleton, once a charming small country town, has become a haven for ignorant xenophobes under the pretext of cracking down on illegal immigration. To wit, Hazleton's city council passed an ordinance requiring anyone who wants to rent a dwelling in the city to apply to the city for a residence license and submit to an investigation of their residency status. Landlords in Hazleton found renting to people without residency licenses can be fined $1,000.00 per day pursuant to the ordinance. Additionally, business owners in Hazleton found hiring, renting property to, or providing goods and services to illegal immigrants can lose their business permit for five years on a first offense and 10 years on a second. The ordinance also declared English to be the city's official language.

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.


Blogger Francis Lynn said...

You like to throw that word around a lot, huh? - xenophobe. And mean-spirited ignorant ones at that. Ah, the disdain dripping forth from you.

Your take on illegal immigration is, dare I say it, ignorant. Does or does not a country have a right to control its borders & entry across it? Judging by every other country in the world, it sure does have a right. You are in the small minority who thinks otherwise, my friend.

The right to control ones border implies that there are laws & penalties that go with that control. In that context, where do you get the idea that such laws are unfair? What is unfair are the illegal border crossers who in effect jump the line ahead of those who applied for legal immigration, some who have waited years. Nary a word from you about this unfairness?

Contrary to your assertion that we are all xenophobes, there are real reasons for concern in some towns & cities. Towns have seen sudden increases in population. Part of this is due to illegals. Social services provided by towns are strained, schools are getting crowded, increases in crime.

Across the country, billions are spent for educating illegal children, hospitals are stuck footing billions in bills due to illegals. Billions are spent on social services to illegals. But we are xenophobes. Did you know there is a Korean travel agency that flies in late term pregnant women, just so they can give birth here & claim US citizenship? But we are xenophobes.

I have some first hand knowledge of the culture of illegals. Landlords love renting out attics & basements to them. Free money for them - off the books income. I've seem squalled conditions in which illegals sleep next to boilers or in tiny attic crawl-spaces, or mattress-lined rooms where 10-15 sleep on the floor. Are you saying a town has no right to control its housing codes or its fire & safety codes? But oh no - that would be xenophobic. phsaw.

Your assertion that the Hazleton ordinance is being used to persecute Latino legal citizens is completely without foundation. Show me.

The USA is the most genrous receiver of immigrants in the world. But that's not good enough for you. Open borders - take in the world. But no country can sustain that type of influx. If you can't see that then it's pointless having a rational starting point with you about illegal immigration.

2:38 AM, July 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Hazleton,Pa. Have all my life, I see the quality of life here going downhill quickly. Live in a small community like this, and read the front page and police section everyday (on a good day the paper is 30 pages). What you will see are murders, drug arrests, and other various crimes. We have always had our share of pathetic crime, but never to this degree. 15 years ago, you COULD leave your front dooe unlocked. Now, people are afraid to leave their home after dark. One crime is committed when people come into this country illegally. Why should they care if they commit more? We don't tell drunk drivers it is ok to drive drunk, why should we tell illegal aliens we will turn a blind eye on their draining of our small town resources? If they want to be here, take the steps to become a citizen--LEGALLY. The first one being learn to communicate. Our ancestors did.

10:50 PM, December 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what country you are habiting. Maybe if you came down from your high horse and spent time in an ER which once meant emergency and see how it is being misused by illegal immigrants for cuts, bruises, headaches,etc. Better yet spend time with a senior citizen who is now afraid to leave her home because the neighborhood she has lived and raised a family in has now been taken over by thugs and people who do not speak English. No it is not dementia...just illegal immigration.

10:08 PM, November 10, 2007  

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