Hazleton trial, Thursday, March 15, afternoon
Shortly after court reconvened following lunch, expert witness Marc R. Rosenblum concluded his testimony. Plaintiffs’ attorney Vic Walczak of the ACLU was sure to make it a matter of record that the defense failed to provide the statistics from the unreleased, updated Temple – Westat report that were cited by the defense this morning. Mr. Rosenblum said “I spent some of my lunch break looking for them on the web, and couldn’t find them.”
Mr. Rosenblum was followed by Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta, who took the stand for the second day. Mr. Barletta said he has, in the past, encouraged new immigrants to “bec[o]me Hazletonians. I was the mayor, I wanted to make sure people would assimilate, it was important for me to reach out and make them feel welcome.”
Under direct examination Mayor Barletta reiterated the impossibility of providing numbers or statistics of the burden of city services, health care, and education, by undocumented residents. In explaining his sense of undocumented persons being a serious problem in Hazleton, Mayor Barletta spoke about a bulletin board in city hall, where newspaper clippings are posted with headlines like “Illegal Alien Arrested for Drugs,” and “Illegal Alien Arrested for Murder.” “Time and time again we wake up and read these things,” said Mayor Barletta.
Responding to hate mail (which Mr. Barletta described as “disgusting”) that Dr. Agapito Lopez received and read earlier in the trial, Mr. Barletta claims he has received similar intimidation. After Mr. Walczak’s hearsay objection, which was initially sustained, and then overruled, Mr. Barletta recounted a call he claims he received in his home: “How will you feel when you die and burn in hell with Lucifer and Lou Dobbs?”
Mayor Barletta’s direct examination was filled with quotes of sound bite caliber. Here is just a small sampling:
“My people in my city did not need any numbers.”
“Every hour that I spend on an illegal alien, should be spent on a taxpayer.”
“It is widely known that most illegal aliens do not speak English.”
Mr. Walczak had about an hour in the late afternoon to cross examine Mr. Barletta.
When asked about Hispanics in Hazleton who perceive the ordinance as having a discriminatory effect, Mayor Barletta said, “Some of that perception was borne by some of the Latino leaders who were not communicating what this ordinance was about.”
Mr. Walczak pressed Mr. Barletta numerous times to confirm or deny the attorney’s interpretation of the violent crime statistics, which attributes two or three of Hazleton’s 428 violent crimes over the past five years to illegal aliens. Mr. Barletta repeatedly sidestepped the question.
Mr. Barletta mentioned a few times today a shooting on a playground perpetrated by a 14-year old illegal immigrant. When Mr. Walczak asked him if he knew the weapon in this shooting was a B.B. gun, Mr. Barletta responded “No.”
Abe in Scranton