PRESS RELEASE FROM MAYOR LOU BARLETTA

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta released the following statement regarding today’s ruling by the federal appeals court in Philadelphia:

Today’s decision by the Third Circuit Court is not unexpected. I’m not disillusioned by this ruling. We knew this would not be the last stop on this journey.

The Third Circuit Court opinion differed from an opinion of the Ninth Circuit Court in a similar case in 2009. That case concerned an Arizona state law that required employers to use the E-verify system.

Even the Ninth Circuit has taken Hazleton’s position on this issue, so today’s decision makes the Third Circuit the most liberal court in America on immigration issues.

This ruling is a loss for Hazleton and its legal residents. It is also a blow to the rights of the legal immigrants who choose to call Hazleton their home. These legal immigrants have followed the rules, and today’s decision will put their jobs in jeopardy.

Illegal immigration creates an underground workforce that reduces the chances for employment for all legal citizens. Illegal immigration drains our budget and prevents us from providing a broader range of city services for legal, taxpaying residents and their children.

I have said repeatedly over the years that the main line of defense against illegal immigration is to eliminate the availability of jobs to illegal aliens. If illegal aliens have no place to work, they will self-deport. In fact, as the American economy worsened recently, we’ve seen it happen. We as a nation should take steps to stop illegal aliens from getting jobs, especially now, a time when American citizens and those in this country legally cannot afford to lose their jobs.

But our fight is not yet over.

The City of Hazleton fully intends to appeal this incorrect decision and take the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary.

Before we do, I’d like to personally thank the members of Hazleton City Council, who have supported this ordinance through the years.

I’d also like to thank the residents of Hazleton, who have strongly supported city council and me in our long fight.

I’d like to thank our legal team, including Kris Kobach and Hank Mahoney. They have spent many long hours on this case.

I would also like to personally thank the thousands of people across the United States of America who have contributed to the city’s legal defense fund. To date, the city has not spent one dollar of taxpayer funds to fight this legal battle – even though we have faced numerous strong, well-funded opponents who have threatened to bankrupt Hazleton as we sought to uphold the rule of law. I encourage anyone who wants to join this battle – and those who want to renew their support – to visit www.smalltowndefenders.com and contribute to our legal defense fund. Again, that Web site is, www.smalltowndefenders.com.

Four years ago, Hazleton became the first community in the nation to stand up for itself. Because our population was growing and our tax base was shrinking, illegal immigration was a serious and substantial drain on our budget. And if you look at our local unemployment numbers, you can see how this underground workforce took away jobs from American citizens and those who are in this country legally.

More importantly, the small-town quality of life we had come to enjoy was being destroyed by criminal aliens who were driving up our crime rate.

Rather than sit back, Hazleton decided to act.

Hazleton was the first – and Hazleton became the symbol of hope for many around the country.

Since I proposed this law more than four years ago, we have seen the growing frustration all across the country. We have seen it in places like Arizona, and Valley Park, Missouri, and Farmers Branch, Texas.

This frustration is not going away – and it will not go away until the federal government finally secures our borders and cracks down on illegal immigration. For decades, Congress has failed us. This problem desperately needs to be fixed in Washington, and I will fight to insure that cities and states can protect themselves against the fiscal and criminal costs of illegal immigration.

The City of Hazleton will continue to pursue this case, not only because we are right, but also because other communities are counting on us.

Because this is a pending legal matter, and because the ruling is almost 200 pages long, I ask that you direct all questions to the city’s attorney, Kris Kobach.

Thank you very much.

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