The Hazleton Illegal Immigration Relief Act once again got a small facelift after day 7 in the Lozano v. City of Hazleton case brought by the ACLU, Puerto Rican Defense and Education Fund and illegal aliens on the constitutionality of the ordinance.
The trial, being held at the William J. Nealon Federal Building in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is expected to end after closing arguments on Thursday, March 22, 2007. US District Judge James Munley should have a decision within weeks.
A number of emails were received by Lawrence Auster yesterday regarding the testimony of Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies on Day 7 of the trial. (tipped by The Freedom Folks)
Just spoke with Steve, who testified yesterday up in Hazelton. His testimony went fabulously, but what was most remarkable was that under cross examination – performed by an attorney from MALDEF (don’t know her name)
Center For Immigration Studies
Steve’s responses were so devastating that plaintiff’s counsel left the hearing and went to the back of the courtroom and started sobbing. Uncontrollably. An ACLU attorney went back to console her and attempted to get her to return to the proceedings, to no avail.
Kris Kobach told Steve that he’d never seen such a devastating turn of events. Steve said that he enjoyed a remarkable dialogue with the judge, who regularly queried Steve despite the objections of plaintiffs’ attorneys. Winning in Hazelton remains a longshot, but this morning Steve believes there’s doubt about that outcome that didn’t exist a week ago.
Could the unnamed attorney be Denise Alvarez, of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund?
Ordinance Revised Once Again
City Council President
The Hazleton City Council ratified the changes they had made earlier on day 5
. The revision eliminated “solely or primarily.” from this portion of the ordinance.
"A complaint which alleges a violation solely or primarily on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, or race shall be deemed invalid and shall not be enforced."
The City Council also added the word "knowingly" to this portion of the ordinance.
"It is unlawful for any business entity to knowingly recruit, hire for employment or continue to employ…an unlawful worker to perform work in whole or in part within the city."
A small change that means a big deal in the court system when trying to prove someone knew they were hiring illegal aliens.
The council also said they were proud of the city and its professionalism of the witnesses in the case.
KKK Sends Support Letter To Mayor Barletta
As if the city of Hazleton needed any more of a controversy, they got one in the form of a letter from a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan.
Imperial Wizard Joseph V. Bednarsky Jr. of the Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Millville, N.J. sent a letter to Mayor Lou Barletta voicing support for the city in its fight against illegal immigration.
"I just wanted to let you know that I support you 100 percent, but will be looking into getting the permits we need to come to your town if the federal courts rule against your Illegal Immigration Relief Act ... I want you to know that our problem is not with you or the people of your town, but against illegal immigration and the United States government, which is allowing it to happen." the letter said.
The Mayor, Police Chief and City Council all rejected the letter outright. The city does not require a permit for demonstrations and parades.
Mayor Lou Barletta
"He won’t get a call from me," Barletta said "I’ve no plans or intentions to make any contact with him or receive any contact,"
"That might be a problem if they ask for a permit," City Council president Joe Yannuzzi said.
"As the KKK is a hate-based group, I don’t want their presence anywhere in Hazleton. We don’t need their presence; we’re not asking for their presence. It would be best for everyone involved if we did not have their presence," City Police Chief Robert Ferdinand said.
Mayor Barletta said that the Police Chief would work with authorities to keep the KKK out of the city.
Hate groups have been jumping on the bandwagon of those opposed to illegal immigration in hopes of recruiting members.
A Third Of Gangs And Drug Dealers Are Illegal Aliens
Hazleton police Detective Christopher Orozco took the stand. Orozco is bilingual and helped Police Chief Ferdinand form a gang task force in February.
Carla Maresca, Hazleton
Hazleton attorney, Carla Maresca
, asked Orozco if anyone had complained about the immigration ordinance or racial profiling by police. Orozco said they hadn't and also that nobody had asked him to reduce the police presence on Wyoming Street, a business district heavily occupied by immigrant businesses.
Orozco started noticing gang behavior, such as dressing in the same colors, about two years ago.
"Basically you were seeing a pattern of behavior and put it together in your head?" Carla Maresca asked.
"Yes," Orozco said.
Orozco testified that a third of gang members arrested are illegal aliens, including one of the four arrested in the murder of Derek Kichline who was killed on May 10, 2006. Pedro Cabrera, was a member of the The Latin Kings.
Orozco pointed out the gangs present in the city including: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), The Latin Kings, DDP (Dominicans Don’t Play), Trinitarios and the East Side Gang, Crips and Bloods.
Quite an eclectic group for a city of 30,000.
Drug Crackdown In Hazleton
Head of the Narcotics Unit Detective Cpl. Jason Zola testified that a third of drug busts in 2006 were illegal aliens. Zola also said that drug investigations are manpower intensive and required more funding due to overtime and renting of cars so they could remain undercover and avoid gang counter-surveillance. He also said that drug problems have intensified over the past five years.
Zola also testified that it takes six to 10 officers to conduct controlled drug buys. Hazleton only has 30 police officers.
Zola went into detail on a raid of a barbershop and clothing store called New York’s Finest on May 18, 2006. It required the majority of Hazleton police officers in addition to Zola's four-man drug squad. The raid also included the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), state police and Luzerne County sheriff’s deputies. Police were able to raid the barbershop and five other properties in Hazleton, West Hazleton and Berwick at the same time. Four of the seven suspects were illegal immigrants, including the owner of the barbershop.
Thomas Fiddler, Plaintiff
plaintiff's attorney Tom Fiddler
cross-examined both of the officers. When questioned on whether they would expect crime to increase with a population increase they both agreed. Fiddler also got them to admit that many gang members aren't illegal aliens. Fiddler pointed out that gang and drug activities are "independent of immigration issues"
"The question is whether the problems the city has been faced with are a result of the number of undocumented persons coming into the city. If you look at the hard evidence, no relationship exists between the two," Fiddler said.
Actually Mr, Fiddler that's not the question at all. The question is whether the Illegal Immigration Relief Act is constitutional
Gang Expert Takes The Stand
Nationally recognized gang expert Jared Lewis, director of Know Gangs, was called by the defense. Know Gangs is an organization to teach law enforcement officials how to identify and deal with gang problems. Lewis said that the machete wielding gang MS-13 is one of the most dangerous in the world. (see more on this vicious group at the Diggers Realm MS-13 Archive). Lewis went through a history of the gang.
Lewis read over evidence and talked to officials and took a tour of Hazleton earlier in the week observing graffiti and other signs of the existence of the gangs. Lewis also said that city police told him that they found a bloody machete when responding to a reported gang party last weekend.
"The graffiti here in Hazleton was 100 percent gang-related," Lewis said. He noted most cities have graffiti "art", but that wasn't the case with what he observed.
Retired Immigration Agent Testifies On SAVE
Hazleton called its last witness, Mike Cutler, a retired agent from the former U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services.
Vic Walczak, ACLU
Cutler used federal databases to check immigration status of immigrants and said that Hazleton could use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system to electronically verify tenants and employees. The Basic Pilot Program
for verifying employee worker eligibility is part of the SAVE system. Cutler said that any tenants or employees flagged by the Internet system could be manually checked by federal immigration officials.
Plaintiff attorney Vic Walczak, of the ACLU, attempted to destroy Cutler’s credibility by showing some discrepancies between his expert report and government-prepared reports on the database verification system.
Several Witnesses Not Called
Temple University law professor Jan Ting was not called to testify as planned. Both sides agreed to facts that would have been presented by two other defense witnesses – Hazleton Area School Board member Sean Shamany and Greater Hazleton Health Alliance president Jim Edwards, eliminating a need for those officials to testify as well.
My Take On Day 8
Great, just what the city needed, the KKK. These groups have really started trying to re-emerge over the past few years with illegal immigration coming into the spotlight. They figure they might be able to trick a few people into thinking they're really just looking out for America and get them to join up.
Umm, no, most of us against illegal immigration don't care what color skin someone has. We care that they are an illegal alien and are not supposed to be here using our resources and services. I'm not sure why the KKK would come forth now. If they truly cared about illegal immigration and this case they would have stayed out of the way. Maybe they thought some sort of threat would influence the case. Who knows?
The officers testimony and that of gang expert Jared Lewis were just more irrelevance in my opinion. Sure they point out that there is a drug and gang problem in the city, but that really has no relevance on the whole point of the case which is whether it is a constitutional ordinance or not.
Mike Cutler's testimony was only relevant in pointing out that the city could actually use existing systems to verify an individual's immigration status. The relevance to the case however is only regarding the "due process" portion of the constitution that the plaintiffs tried to bring up earlier in the trial in where they said the timetable for appeal was too short for those flagged by the system.
I don't think either side made their case in the whole 8 days of this trial, but that is a good thing!
The plaintiffs are the ones who have to prove that the ordinance is unconstitutional, not the defendants, and I don't think they did so.
Closing arguments are occurring today. Each side is expected to have 90 minutes to present them and prove that they've provided enough evidence to prove their point of view. Then it will lie in the hands of Clinton appointee Judge Munley who is expected to make his decision within the coming weeks. I'm not too confident in Munley, but we'll have to wait and see. Who knows, we could be surprised.
Be sure to check out the recap of the other days of coverage in my Hazleton Archive
Hazleton needs funding. You can donate to their legal defense fund at Small Town Defenders. Their case could set the stage for reduced illegal immigration throughout this country, so donate today!
Hazleton Standard Speaker: 1 2 3 4; Times-Leader: 1; Know Gangs: 1