Nativism Watch

Federal judge: PA city must pay $1.4M for Kobach-authored law

Imagine2050 Staff • Oct 07, 2015

A federal judge ruled yesterday that legal challenges against Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s 2006 anti-immigrant housing ordinance will cost the city $1.4 million, The Standard Speaker reports. The figure is reduced from $2.8 million that attorneys challenging the law originally sought.

The ordinance was authored by leading nativist legal mind and current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Similar anti-immigrant ordinances authored by Kobach have been passed in cities across the country, including one that cost the city of Farmers Branch, Texas more than $6 million in legal fees.

Hazleton’s 2006 law, which was never enacted, was passed by city officials under the mayorship of Lou Barletta. Barletta is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and is one of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s most strident allies in Congress. He also sits on the advisory board of flagship anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Kobach is an attorney for FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).

In May, when Hazleton attorneys were negotiating legal fees with plaintiffs’ lawyers, former Barletta told Reuters that he had no qualms about any legal fees arising from challenges to the law.

“I took an oath of office to protect the people in my city,” Barletta said. “I don’t regret it.”

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that Barletta had a net worth of $2,016,549 in 2013. Whether he will use any of that wealth to protect Hazleton taxpayers from the consequences of his nativist zeal remains to be seen.

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