Illegal Immigration Relief Act Costly for Hazleton

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HAZLETON -- An already financially troubled city in Luzerne County is in even more debt now over a decision made nearly a decade ago.

A federal judge has ordered Hazleton to pay $1.4 million to lawyers who battled the city over a controversial illegal immigration ordinance. It's money that will be paid by taxpayers.

City officials say they are going into the next year with a budget deficit of $700,000.

"It shouldn't have been pursued by our former mayor. I think he got us into this and now we are suffering the consequences of his efforts," said Paul Comishock of Hazleton.

That former mayor, now Congressman Lou Barletta, stands by the ordinance.

His office issued a statement saying:

"The ruling is still wrong, and the dollar amount, frankly, pales in comparison to what illegal immigrants are costing Hazleton taxpayers in city services."

Essentially, the Illegal Immigration Relief Act passed in 2006 set out to penalize landlords in Hazleton who rented to undocumented immigrants and businesses that hired them.

"The critics took Hispanics and said that's who we were trying to eliminate. No, we were trying to eliminate illegals," said current Hazleton Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi.

Yannuzzi says the $1.4 million judgment against the city does not mean complete defeat, at least in two areas. The city doesn't have to pay the $2.8 million that was originally asked for in the lawsuit and part of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act can still be enforced.

"We can still have employers verify if they are citizens and if they are not we can remove their license," Yannuzzi said.

While a federal judge has ordered the city to pay $1.4 million as a result of the battle over the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, the mayor says the ordinance has never been enforced in any form.

City council will decide if part of it will be enforced after the upcoming November election.

4 comments

  • Tim Brennan

    want to know whats wrong with this country?hazelton gets sued costing millions but god forbid sacuary cities be denied federal money for breaking federal law

  • wingfootjr

    If Hazleton’s legal residents took out the trash and deem it intolerable they wouldnt be in the situation they are in. PAY ATTENTION WILKES BARRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ashley Dancho

    Seriously, look what illegals are doing to Hazleton. They have destroyed a nice city and made it into a danger zone no decent people can safely live in anymore. I think Hazleton should be given the 1.4 million to help them with the costs the illegals are causing. They should fight this. It’s a joke. The illegals ruin a city I once loved and Hazleton has to pay??

  • magicmikexxsm

    Illegal Immigration Relief Act Costly for Hazleton………………………………………….
    Hazleton should send the bill to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington D.C. care of Obama…….Hazleton has turned into a krap hole because of illegals and what not’s flooding the are..because of obama and the DNC……Hazleton is damned if they do and damned if they don’t……Illegals and what not’s are costing Hazleton a heck of a lot more in police, protection because of the crime they bring…tell the judge to eff off file for bankruptcy, and have the last laugh..

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