Immigration Battle On In Pennsylvania

The small city of Hazleton, in northeast Pennsylvania, is an unlikely place to become a frontline in the immigration battle. But, as CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reports, it is.

Rudy Espinal is a naturalized American, one of about 10,000 Latinos who call Hazleton home.

What worries him now is the tough anti-illegal immigrant law that Hazleton passed this summer.

The law would fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, possibly costing them their license. It would also penalize companies who hire undocumented workers and mandate English as Hazleton's official language.

The law is already causing some changes in the city.

"I've seen a few places have closed," Espinal said. "Like this restaurant here, it closed down."

And it is causing some pain.

"Especially with all this debate about English only," Espinal said.

Mayor Lou Barleta says that violent crime doubled last year because of illegal immigrants.

"We had a 29 year old shot between the eyes, by two illegal aliens," Barleta said. "I can't sit back and watch this happen to our city."

Many politicians have been reluctant to take on this issue until now.

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who's in a tough re-election fight, has been a staunch ally of President Bush, but he is breaking ranks to talk tough on immigration.

Now the race against his opponent, Democrat Bob Casey, has tightened.

It's not just here in Pennsylvania. The debate over immigration reform may determine mid-term elections across the country.

Immigration has become the main focus in at least five other races: a senate and a house race in Arizona, and house races in Colorado, Iowa and New York.

Immigrant groups warn that the issue may help win some elections today, but it could backfire long term.

"We know that 40-thousand hispanics turn 18 every month," said Marcelo Gaete of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. "What kind of experience are they going to have with those political parties?"

But that's not likely to bother politicians who are worried about winning this November.
  • James Klatell

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