Hoax Web site jabs anti-illegal immigrant town
Hazleton, Pa. under fire on site that says Santa, a foreigner, isn’t wanted


PHILADELPHIA - Santa isn’t welcome in Hazleton because he’s an illegal immigrant just like all the others the Pennsylvania town is trying to get rid of — or so someone would have you believe.

A new Web site, no santa for hazleton, says the town intends to keep Santa out this Christmas because he represents the illegal immigration the town council believes increases crime and burdens local services.

But the site is a hoax, created by someone in a bid to satirize a local law passed in July that has attracted national attention by imposing penalties on businesses and landlords to deter them from hiring or renting rooms to illegal immigrants.

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who instigated the Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance, said neither he nor the City of Hazleton are involved with the Web site and that while he’s not taking it seriously, it may be illegal because it invites online donations. The town has referred it to police.

The site pretends to quote Barletta as saying, “Santa is a dangerous idea whose reign must be put to an end.”

A “press release” on the site says a coalition of elected officials and concerned citizens have come together to act against “the nation’s most prominent undocumented worker.”

Hazleton’s immigration act has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge pending a lawsuit against the town brought by immigrant supporters, including the American Civil Liberties Union. It is expected to be heard in early 2007.

Hazleton is a former coal-mining town of 31,000 people in the eastern part of the state.

Barletta said he has no idea who created the site, adding: “Whoever did that will certainly be getting coal for Christmas.”