Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hazleton Anti-Immigrant Ordinance Unconstitutional

TIRRC Applauds Decision to Prevent Discrimination as Nashville Copycat Ordinances Now Seem Doomed to Fail

Washington, DC – Today, a federal judge in Scranton, PA ruled against the City of Hazleton in a landmark challenge (Lozano v. City of Hazleton) to local ordinances aimed at punishing landlords, employers, and people perceived to be immigrants. The following is a statement by David Lubell, Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.

“Today’s decision is a win in America’s effort to restore the rule of law while upholding our tradition of fairness and equality. We are grateful that the court recognized these are not mutually exclusive concepts and made a decision to prevent the harmful effects we would have all suffered if this law had been implemented. This ruling sends a clear message that the Hazleton ordinance, and the copycat ordinances proposed last year in Nashville, are unconstitutional and would not be allowed to stand.[1]

Frustration over Congressional failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform is real and legitimate. Congress abdicated its responsibility on one of the nation’s most pressing issues, and has passed the buck on to state and local governments. But we should focus our frustration on the appropriate targets – those members of Congress who continue to obstruct a comprehensive and bipartisan solution for the sole purpose of scoring political points – rather than attempting to render whole communities suspect and in the process undermine quality of life for us all.

Anti-immigrant laws like those proposed in Hazleton are reprehensible because their proponents know fully well these ordinances will not solve the problem and often use misinformation and faulty statistics to sell them to the public. We are at this point today because Congress cannot get itself to put aside partisanship and political calculations to do what is best for the country. In the wake of their failure to fix our broken immigration system, we are left with a situation in which every small town and city around the country may try to enact their own legislation on immigration, creating total anarchy and chaos in the system.

The American people will continue to demand a workable and fair solution that restores the rule of law, secures our borders, strengthens our economy and upholds the values of faith, family and hard work that are the cornerstone of our democracy. The Hazleton ordinance would have led us away from that path; now we must continue pressuring Congress to do its job.”
TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are viewed as positive contributors to the state.


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