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Pennsylvania community approves immigration law revision

[JURIST] The City Council of Hazleton, Pennsylvania [official website] granted tentative approval to revisions to its controversial Illegal Immigration Relief Act [text, PDF; mayor's letter] on Friday in an attempt to help the law survive legal challenges. The changes shift burdens originally placed on businesses, now making it the city's responsibility to determine immigration statuses. The Council will vote Tuesday on whether to give the revised law final approval.

Hazleton, whose population of roughly 31,000 living 80 miles west of Philadelphia has become about 1/3 Hispanic in recent years, agreed to delay enforcement [JURIST report] of the law last week after it was challenged [JURIST report; complaint; ACLU materials] by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) [advocacy websites] last month. The original version punished employers, landlords, and business merchants who employ, rent to, or sell products to illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive], and made English the official language of Hazleton. Mayor Lou Barletta says the measure was prompted by a local crime wave of shootings and drug dealing in which illegal aliens figured prominently [PBS Newshour report]. Barletta estimates that some 5000 Hazleton Hispanics are undocumented. Other US communities are now considering similar measures in the wake of the Hazleton ordinance. AP has more.

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