Ann mentioned in her story about Obama’s Auntie Zeituni that immigration hasn’t come up as an issue in this election campaign. True for the presidential campaign. But in one congressional race it is THE issue. Mark Krikorian reports in National Review on the campaign of Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, who made national news for his actions to protect his town from an onslaught of illegal immigrants who raised crime rates and made Hazleton an unpleasant place to live.
In 2006, in response to a growing number of illegal residents in his city, he passed an ordinance that would fine those who hire them or rent them apartments; illegal residents started streaming out of the city despite the fact that the measure was struck down by a federal judge in response to an ACLU lawsuit. (The Third Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case yesterday, and since a similar Arizona law has been upheld, Hazleton’s odds are good.)
Now Barletta is running for Congress and is one of the few Republican challengers with a good chance at defeating a Democrat incumbent — he’s up five points in the latest poll. Here’s how important the immigration issue is:
It’s not just that immigration control landed Barletta on national and international news; his stance is wildly popular in his city, where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. In Hazleton’s 2007 elections, not only did he defeat a Republican primary challenger, but so many Democrats wrote his name in that he also won their primary and was reelected with close to 90 percent of the vote.
Those Hazleton voters must be some of the bitter gun-owning religious folks. But wait, the people of Arizona, John “Amnesty” McCain’s own state, are fighting to keep their toughest-in-the-nation immigration law against a coalition of businesses that want to get back to hiring illegal aliens. This coalition is promoting a ballot measure that seeks to roll back the law but is being presented as just the opposite — the usual tactic of those who want to do something the public can’t stand.
No matter who is elected president, the issue of illegal immigration is alive and well.