On Tuesday, reporter Sean Hamill filed "Mexican's Death Bares a Town's Ethnic Tension ," on a killing in the town of Shenandoah, Pa.. Four teenagers on the town's high school football teamhave beencharged in the death of Luis Ramirez, an illegal immigrant, after he suffered a beating July 12. The boys have been charged, among other counts, with "ethnic intimidation." Motive? Hamill had the audacity to suggest an overturned policy from the town of Hazleton, 20 miles away from Shenandoah, was somewhat responsible for the hostile atmosphere that led to the killing.
Mr. Ramirez's death has also reignited a regional debate over immigration that began two years ago when the town of Hazleton, about 20 miles from Shenandoah, enacted an ordinance that sought to discourage people from hiring or renting to illegal immigrants.
At the time, Shenandoah, whose Hispanic population has grown to about 10 percent, from 2.8 percent in 2000, considered a similar ordinance but held off after Hazleton was sued.
Even then, there were signs of tension. After the debate over the Hazleton ordinance, Shenandoah's Mexican community pulled out of Heritage Days in 2006.
"They just didn't feel comfortable then," said Flor Gomez, whose family runs a Mexican restaurant in town.
Many people believe the debate fueled by Hazleton's actions helped create the environment that led to Mr. Ramirez's death.
By "many people," read "left-wing pro-illegal immigration groups."
"Clearly there were a lot of factors here," said Ms. Limón, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which has been helping Ms. Dillman. "But I do believe that the inflammatory rhetoric in the immigration debate does have a correlation with increased violence against Latinos."
Hazleton's mayor, Lou Barletta, said he saw no connection to his town's ordinance, which was scrapped after the town lost a court battle.
In other words, an ordinance that wasn't even in effect was responsible for the alleged murderous actions of four teenagers, two years later andtwenty miles away.