March 24, 2007
The final day of the Hazleton trial
opened with the news that the Hazleton City Council had passed yet another revision of its anti-immigrant ordinance the previous night. As ACLU attorney Vic Walczak said ruefully, "It's a little difficult when the target keeps moving."
Vic pressed on, giving his closing statement Thursday morning. He pointed out that Hazleton does not have the financial troubles it claims, and in fact, the influx of immigrants, both legal and illegal, to Hazleton have revitalized the city. In 2000, before the influx, they had a $1.2 million deficit. There is now a surplus. The hospital, allegedly struggling under the burden of providing services to illegal immigrants, managed to turn a $4 million profit last year. And the crime rate, the reason Mayor Barletta says he passed the ordinances in the first place, is per capita lower than it was five years ago. (These figures came directly from charts provided by the city.)
Hazleton's defense lawyer, Kris Kobach, said in his closing statement that the city did not need scientific evidence of the problems with illegal immigrants, just a rational belief. In this trial, let's hope that isn't enough.