The PJ Tatler

In Hazelton, Pa., They've Fired the People and Imported Another

Hazelton, in eastern Pennsylvania, used to be a Polish coal town, whose output fueled the mighty furnaces of the Bethlehem Steel corporation. As recently as the 2000 census, it was 95 percent white. But when things change, they change fast:

The research examined the area’s dramatic increase in immigrant population and how educators adapted to the increase in multicultural students. Hopkins and Kolb chose to study Hazleton because it has had such great change in recent years. According to the U.S. Census, Hispanics made up 5 percent of Hazleton’s population in 2000. By 2010, that number increased to 37 percent.

Well, immigration will do that to a place. But waves of illegal immigrants will do it even faster. Hazelton tried to defend itself, with the passage of the Illegal Immigration Relief Ordinance of 2006, which made it illegal for residents to rent to illegals –and of course was immediately sued. Here’s what happened:

In a decision that received little notice, the United States Supreme Court in mid-March [2014] declined to review two federal appellate decisions that struck down controversial local immigration enforcement ordinances in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas. With its refusal to take up the cases, the Supreme Court brought to a close a contentious chapter in immigration litigation that lasted more than seven years, and thus established more clarity in the role states and cities can play in the enforcement of immigration laws.

Both the Hazleton and Farmers Branch ordinances made it illegal for unauthorized immigrants to rent housing and for landlords to rent to individuals they knew to be unauthorized. With the passage of its Illegal Immigration Relief Ordinance in July 2006, Hazleton catapulted itself onto the national political stage and became something of a cause celebre for proponents of state and local activisim in immigration enforcement. Over the course of eight months in 2006 and 2007, Hazleton enacted—and amended—a series of ordinances designed to make it more difficult for unauthorized immigrants to live and work in the city. The ordinances required anyone renting housing to obtain an occupancy permit for which only those lawfully present in the United States were eligible. The ordinances also prohibited landlords from renting to unauthorized immigrants and city businesses from hiring them.

Can’t have municipalities trying to defend themselves or their way of life now, can we?