By MICHAEL RUBINKAM (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
March 13, 2007 7:17 AM EDT
SCRANTON, Pa. - Jose Lechuga struggled as a grocer, but he said his Hispanic customers became scarce when the city of Hazleton began to crack down on illegal immigrants.
"They didn't feel safe and they didn't want to have any problems," he testified Monday through an interpreter during the first federal trial to focus on a local law designed to curb illegal immigration.
ACLU attorneys representing Lechuga and others maintain the former coal town usurped power reserved for the federal government by adopting an Illegal Immigration Relief Act. They added that Hazleton leaders cannot justify the act by claiming that illegal immigrants are destroying the quality of life in the city.
"Even if illegal immigrants really are wreaking havoc on Hazleton, that doesn't change the legal analysis" that Hazleton's local law is unconstitutional, said Witold "Vic" Walczak, the Pennsylvania legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Following Mr. Walczak's "logic," a homeowner has no business trying to extinguish a kitchen fire in his house because firefighters "have exclusive power" over kitchen fires.