Thursday, March 15, 2007

How many immigrants are in Hazleton?

So let me get this right. The Mayor of Hazleton says that the population of his city has gone from 22K to 33K "mainly because of Hispanic immigrants" in just the last few years.

Huh? like how is that possible. The entire population of Hazleton in 2000 was 23,264. Somehow the city has grown by 50% since then, and somehow it's all Hispanic immigrants. Yet, the city seems to be declining through the end of 2002 according to this article. and the growth is caused not just by immigrants, but specifically Hispanic immigrants. If that were even conceivable, wouldn't you think the poor guy would have a lot more problems to deal with than whether some of these new Hazletonians had visa's or not. Even if you doubt population counts, I think we have a decent count of housing units out there. With a total of 11,523, housing units in Hazleton where are all of these people living? Unless every single house or apartment suddenly took in an extra resident then it is inconceivable that many people are there. Imagine if 160K people showed up in Pittsburgh next year, would the number one story be about whether some of them didn't have visas, or would it be about what we were putting in the water.

I'm sorry, but no matter what you think about immigration, this whole Hazleton topic has careened over the edge into demagogic posturing if not something worse. I came to that conclusion a few months ago when I caught a few minutes of a local radio interview with the mayor of Hazelton. The host was all upbeat on the mayor and saying what a great American he was and all of that. The theme was all about how he was only opposed to the illegal immigrants, not immigration in general. Then they took a call from someone who said be had grown up in Scranton and how he wished the mayor had been in charge back then because he would have stopped the influx of Puerto Ricans who moved in decades ago. They thanked the caller and the backslapping with the mayor continued right on.. Did anyone bother to mention that Puerto Ricans are AMERICAN CITIZENS...every single one of them. NO!! Not only that, but they are citizens at birth just like most of us. I even served with a large part of the Puerto Rican national guard when they were mobilized and sent overseas a few years ago. So this facade that this is only about illegal or undocumented immigrants is a fraud. There can't be any distinction being made between legal and illegal immigrants if they are fostering opposition to people who are not immigrants at all.

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