New York, NY, April 18, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has joined a coalition of national civil rights organizations in urging the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hold an anti-immigrant ordinance enacted in Hazleton, PA, unconstitutional.
The Hazleton ordinance seeks to prohibit hiring of and leasing property to undocumented immigrants and mandates that all official city documents and communication be conducted or written only in English. The lower court ruled the ordinance unconstitutional because immigration policy is more properly governed by federal law.
In an amicus brief submitted to the appellate court, ADL and a coalition of civil rights groups led by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) contend that the Hazleton ordinance is unconstitutional and discriminatory.
"The Hazleton ordinance places immigration enforcement in the hands of local community members with little experience or training," said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "Such ordinances lead to discrimination and profiling and say to immigrant communities that they are not welcome.
"This ordinance highlights our need to speak out against the anti-immigrant bigotry and xenophobia pervading our nation's cities – and also the need to enact comprehensive immigration reform," added Ms. Lauter.
Hazleton has been a flashpoint for anti-immigrant advocacy. Last year, Hazleton was the site of a rally featuring anti-immigrant activists who demonized immigrants, as documented in ADL's report, Immigrants Targeted: Extremist Rhetoric Moves Into the Mainstream.
See ADL's brief in Pedro Lozano et al., v. City of Hazleton (.pdf)