Kobach In Hazleton, PA

July 15, 2010 11:05 am ET

In the town of Hazleton, PA, Kobach became involved in a legal case to prevent illegal immigrants from renting homes within the city limits.  After a lawsuit from the ACLU, getting overturned by a federal judge, and a pending appellate decision, the legislation has cost the town of 30,000 nearly $2.4 million.

Hazleton, PA

Hazleton Is A City Of 30,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hazleton, Pennsylvania is "a city of about 30,000 that is 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia." [Los Angeles Times, 7/27/07]

Kobach & The "Illegal Immigrant Relief Act"

Hazleton Illegal Immigrant Relief Act Fined Landlords For Renting To Illegal Immigrants And Makes English The City's Official Language. According to the Baltimore Sun: "The [Hazleton] mayor calls his plan the 'Illegal Immigrant Relief Act' and explains it in an open letter on the city Web site. It punishes companies with illegal employees by denying them permits and making it harder to renew permits. It fines landlords $1,000 for every illegal immigrant residing on their properties. And it makes city documents available only in English." [Baltimore Sun, 7/9/06, via The Ledger]

  • Hazleton Mayor Consulted With Kobach About Illegal Immigrant Relief Act. According to the Associated Press: "Mayor Lou Barletta, of Hazleton, Pa., called Kobach in 2006 to discuss a proposal to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and to deny permits to businesses hiring them. Kobach later defended the law in federal court. The mayor said he contacted Kobach after a news report quoted him saying Hazleton had the authority to enact such an ordinance, contradicting other legal scholars. 'It really only took one conversation to realize that he truly knew what he was talking about,' Barletta recalled." [Associated Press, 5/10/10, via KTKA.com]

ACLU: Hazelton Law Made Businesses Responsible For Investigating The Immigration Status Of Their Tenants And Employees. According to the ACLU: "Under the Hazleton legislation, businesses that refuse to comply with the laws and investigate the immigration status of employees and tenants would be fined or denied business permits. The law lacks any provision enabling targets of these investigations to effectively challenge determinations as to their status." [ACLU, 10/15/06]

Kobach Was Lead Counsel Defending Hazleton Law Combating Employment And Harboring Of Illegal Immigrants. According to the biography page of his 2010 Secretary of State campaign website, Kobach "is lead counsel defending Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in its efforts to stop the employment of unauthorized aliens and the harboring of illegal aliens in apartments against a suit brought by the ACLU." [KrisKobach.org, accessed 6/23/10]

Hazleton Mayor in 2006: "If It's Stopped Here, It'll Be Stopped All Over The Country." According to The Times of London, Mayor Barletta stated: "This is a landmark lawsuit. If it's stopped here, it'll be stopped all over the country." [The Times of London, 8/21/06]

Rhetoric Connects Violence To Latino Immigrants

Hazleton Mayor: Hispanic Migration Is Linked To A Rise In Crime. The Times of London reported: "According to [Hazleton Mayor Lou] Barletta, crime in Hazleton is up 50 per cent in the five years during which the Latino community has grown from 5 to 30 per cent. Arrests among Hispanics, he notes, are up 30 per cent. 'I don't need a number to say enough is enough,' he says." [The Times of London, 8/21/06]

Kobach "Described A Surge In Violent Crime And Gang Warfare Since 2005." According to the Associated Press: "Mr. Kobach described a surge in violent crime and gang warfare since 2005 that [Hazleton] city officials attribute to a growing population of illegal immigrants." [New York Times, 3/13/07]

Kobach: "34 Illegal Aliens Were Responsible For 22 Crimes" In Hazleton In A Six-Year Period. According to the Hazleton Standard-Speaker: "In the six-year period cited in [an ACLU] video, '34 illegal aliens were responsible for 22 crimes, including three murders, two rapes and numerous drug offenses,' Kobach said in an interview." [Hazleton Standard-Speaker, 1/23/10, via FindArticles.com]

ACLU: Only 4 Of 428 Violent Crimes In Hazleton In The Last Six Years Were Committed By Illegal Immigrants. According to the New York Times: "At the nine-day trial in March, A.C.L.U. lawyers worked as hard to debunk those claims as they did to undercut the city's legal arguments. They showed that 4 of 428 violent crimes in Hazleton in the last six years could be attributed to illegal immigrants." [New York Times, 7/27/07]

Federal Decision

2007: Federal Judge Struck Down Hazleton Illegal Immigrant Law. According to the Los Angeles Times: "A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Pennsylvania city's ordinance that sought to punish landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and employers who hire them, ruling that immigration law is the province of the federal government alone...[U.S. District Judge James] Munley blocked the measures from taking effect and, in Thursday's 206-page decision, concluded that local officials lacked authority to go beyond federal law and impose penalties on businesses for hiring illegal immigrants. 'Allowing states or local governments to legislate with regard to the employment of unauthorized aliens would interfere with congressional objectives' to control immigration policy, Munley said." [Los Angeles Times, 7/27/07]

  • Federal Judge: "Hazleton...Overstated The Direct Cost To The City Of The Presence Of Undocumented Aliens In Town." In his opinion in the case of Lozano v. City of Hazleton, U.S. District Court Judge Munley wrote: "Testimony at trial indicated that funding for hospitals and schools in Hazleton did not come from the budget of the City of Hazleton. This evidence indicates that Hazleton has overstated the direct cost to the city of the presence of undocumented aliens in town. Nevertheless, we find that many costs for both the City and City residents can be associated with the increased population, particularly when those residents are undocumented workers who present special problems of communication and government-resident interaction." [Lozano v. City of Hazleton, 3:06-cv-01586-JMM, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, 7/26/07, pg. 155, emphasis added]

The Hazleton Law Challenge Was Appealed To The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals And Is Awaiting A Ruling. According to the Hazleton Standard-Speaker: "Both sides in the Hazleton case await a ruling from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard an appeal of the case in Philadelphia on Oct. 30, 2008." [Hazleton Standard-Speaker, 1/23/10, via FindArticles.com]

The Cost To Hazleton: $2.4 Million

Attorneys For The Plaintiffs Challenging Hazleton Law Are Seeking $2.4 Million In Fees From The City. According to the Wilkes Barre Times Leader: "Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Hazleton immigration ordinance lawsuit filed a court petition Friday seeking nearly $2.4 million in attorneys fees and costs from the city. In a harshly worded 25-page brief, the attorneys blame city officials for the high figure, saying their actions in repeatedly amending the ordinance ratcheted up the costs by forcing the plaintiffs' attorneys to continually revamp court filings and legal strategy...The fees stem from a lawsuit filed by the ACLU that challenged the constitutionality of city's Illegal Immigration Relief Act...Under federal law, plaintiffs who prevail in a civil rights case are entitled to recover attorneys fees." [Wilkes Barre Times Leader, 9/1/07, via Lexis Nexis]

Hazleton's Insurance Carrier Refused To Pay For Legal Fees Resulting From Hazleton's Federal District Court Defeat. According to the Hazleton Standard-Speaker: "Attorney Jim Young, representing Scottsdale Insurance, argued the company is not liable for legal bills arising from the lawsuits and pointed to definitions in the policy. He claimed the city's coverage included only decisions involving awards of monetary damages -- and not legal fees. Plaintiffs in the illegal immigration ordinance suit are not seeking monetary damages." [Hazleton Standard-Speaker, 5/8/09, via FindArticles.com]

Hazleton's Insurance Carrier Refused To Pay The Legal Fees Of Kris Kobach Because They Never Agreed To Cover Him. According to the Hazleton Standard-Speaker: "[Attorney Jim] Young also claimed Scottsdale Insurance is not required to fund the city's pending appeal. When the city appealed the IIRA decision in the Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia, he said, Scottsdale appointed a firm to act on its behalf. But Young said Scottsdale will not pay fees for attorney Kris Kobach, who also represented the city in that appeal. 'There was no written consent from Scottsdale to the city to retain him,' Young said." [Hazleton Standard-Speaker, 5/8/09, via FindArticles.com]

  • Kobach Was Paid Almost $55,000 By Hazleton In The First Half Of 2007. According to the Wilkes Barre Times Leader: "Payments for legal fees went to Kris W. Kobach, lead defense attorney in the trial: $22,777 and $32,052 on Jan. 3 and March 6, respectively." [Wilkes Barre Times Leader, 4/1/07, via Lexis Nexis]

Hazleton Set Up Legal Defense Fund "To Pay Costs Associated With The Lawsuit." According to the Wilkes Barre Times Leader, Hazleton Mayor Lou "Barletta noted he is continuing to seek donations to the legal defense fund set up to pay costs associated with the lawsuit. The fund has received $300,000 in donations as of the end of July, of which about half has been spent." [Wilkes Barre Times Leader, 9/1/07, via Lexis Nexis]