Sunday, July 29, 2007
Decision receives Obama’s attention. A Victory for all Americans. Know Mr. Barletta should spend his time in something constructive.
By L.A. TARONE Standard Speaker.
The decision on Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act continues to get attention from presidential contenders.
In a statement issued by his campaign, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama praised U.S. District Judge James Munley’s decision Thursday, calling it a “victory for all Americans.”
“The anti-immigrant law passed by Mayor Barletta was unconstitutional and unworkable – and it underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform so local communities do not continue to take matters into their own hands,” Obama, a contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, said.
He said he believed that the attempt to enact the law was a reaction to what he considered congressional failure on the issue of immigration. And he made a pitch for what supporters have referred to a comprehensive immigration reform.
“Recently, the U.S. Senate failed the American people by blocking progress on immigration reform for the second time in two years,” Obama said. “We cannot put this off any longer. The ongoing problems with our immigration system are dividing our country, and distracting us from the work we need to do in other important areas such as health care, education and jobs.”
The comprehensive package Obama supported ran into a firestorm of controversy, with opponents calling it “amnesty.” A similar proposal ran into similar problems last year and also failed.
Polls show Obama running behind New York Sen. Hilary Clinton in the race for the Democrat nomination.
Obama is the second presidential contender to comment on Hazleton’s ordinance.
Republican Fred Thompson came down on the city’s side Thursday.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission also reacted to Munley’s decision Friday.
“Judge Munley’s decision underscores the position of the Human Relations Commission and other supportive groups have been taking all along,” PHRC Chairman Stephen Glassman said in a release. “Legislation such as this ordinance, premised as it is on the biases and fears of certain individuals, is inconsistent with basic Constitutional protections available to all, irrespective of their ‘status’ in the country. Legitimate concerns about immigration, as the Judge correctly noted, must be addressed by the federal government.”
The statement urged “leaders in the Hazleton community” to “speak out in an effort to end the divisiveness caused by the ordinances just found to be unconstitutional.”
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney, a former state representative from Allentown, also lauded Munley’s decision.
“This decision should serve as a reminder that while local municipalities have no authority or jurisdiction over immigration issues, we should also be very hesitant to condemn individuals that came to the United States to improve their lives and the lives of their children,” Rooney said.
Rooney’s statement added Democrats would “continue welcoming Latinos and other immigrants into the Party as valuable members of our society.”
“Latinos today are facing the same struggles that our Irish, German, Italian, Polish and Greek ancestors faced, to name a few,” he said. “Today, America represents the very best of every nationality. Latinos should be afforded the same opportunities that other immigrants had when they came to the United States to become productive American citizens.”