The Hazleton decision is an eloquent affirmation of the rights that protect all people under our Constitution. To add my one of my own favorite quotes from the decision:
We cannot say clearly enough that persons who enter this country without legal authorization are not stripped immediately of all their rights because of this single act … The United States Supreme has consistently interpreted [the 14th Amendment] to apply to all people present in the United States, whether they were born here, immigrated here through legal means, or violated federal law to enter the country.
Thank you, Judge Munley. But unfortunately, your court alone cannot protect due process rights in this country. Anyone who’s ever taken bong hits (for Jesus or not) or run a red light knows that our laws often express our ideals more than our reality, and they’re an important recourse when injustice is afoot. But the day-to-day decency and regard for our neighbors (be it those next door, or those across the borders) requires more than laws. It requires our voices and our actions.
On June 3, hundreds attended a rally in Hazleton on June 3 in support of Mayor Barletta and his anti-immigrant legislation. A Peruvian-born newspaper publisher (an American citizen) was harrassed at the event and escorted away by police for his own safety. More rallies of this kind are being planned across the state throughout the summer and early fall.
Lacking comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level, and with rising frustrations at the local level, we need to take action to protect the rights of immigrants. I’m talking about those of us who care about the constitution, due process and fair treatment of those living within our borders, and who oppose actions that lead to discriminatory treatment of our friends, co-workers and neighbors.
So, if you think this Hazleton decision is a good thing, speak out. Our state and our country need your voice to be heard as much as we need Judge Munley’s.
Jess in Philly