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Pennsylvania city mayor testifies in support of anti-illegal immigration laws

[JURIST] Hazleton, Pennsylvania [official website; legal defense website] mayor Lou Barletta [official website] testified Wednesday in a Pennsylvania federal court on the constitutionality of two city laws that make it more difficult for illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive] to live or work in the city. Testifying in Lozano v. City of Hazleton [case information, docket], Barletta said the local ordinances in question were designed to lower the town's crime rate. The laws fine landlords for renting to illegal immigrants and deny permits to businesses hiring undocumented immigrants. During questioning by a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], Barletta said that while he was unsure how many illegal immigrants live and work in Hazleton, the city's static tax revenues, despite a significant population increase in recent years, show that many new residents are either unemployed or are not paying taxes.

In November, a federal judge granted [JURIST report] a temporary restraining order [text, PDF] precluding enforcement of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act [text, PDF] and Landlord Tenant Ordinance [text, PDF] pending the outcome of the case. Critics of the laws, including advocacy groups like the Pennsylvania chapter [advocacy website] of the ACLU and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund [advocacy website; case materials] say the measures are illegal. Barletta will be questioned by lawyers for the city of Hazleton Thursday. AP has more. The Scranton Times-Tribune has local coverage.

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