Altoona Latest To Approve Illegal Immigrant Crackdown

AP, September 27, 2006

Altoona, Pa.—City Council members on Tuesday night approved a measure aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants by punishing companies that hire them and landlords who rent to them.

The council voted 6-1, with member Matt Garber dissenting, to adopt the “Undocumented Alien Control Ordinance” proposal, which is similar to a measure passed in Hazleton earlier this year.

Before the vote, members heard passionate testimony from people for and against the ordinance.

“Who will take care of the people made homeless and unemployed?” asked The Rev. Luke Robertson, Catholic Charities director. “What might passing this kind of ordinance do to the soul of this city?”

Businessman Greg Sheehan, however, said the measure could keep problems such as depressed wages and crime from reaching Altoona, a city of about 47,000 that is 85 miles west of Pittsburgh.

“It’s coming,” he said. “We need to stop it before it happens.”

The vote came a couple of weeks after a Blair County jury recommended that Miguel Padilla be sentenced to death for the murders of three men outside a city nightclub last year. Immigration authorities have said that Padilla, 27, of Gallitzin, had been in the country illegally from Mexico since he was about 9 years old.

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Representatives of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches, the American Civil Liberties Union and some community activists had asked the council to table the ordinance. Bishop Joseph Adamec of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown earlier said that if it was passed, there should be a “grandfather clause” allowing poor families to get help if needed.

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Hollidaysburg—The mother of a man killed in a triple homicide last year plans to sue the federal government for $100 million, court documents state.

Sandra Miller of Altoona is the mother of Stephen Heiss, who died Aug. 28, 2005.

Miguel Padilla was convicted and received death sentences this month for killing Alfred Mignogna, owner of the United Veterans Association building; Fredrick Rickabaugh Sr., UVA doorman; and Heiss, a patron.

The jury wasn’t told that Padilla is an illegal alien.

The civil lawsuit notice, filed by attorney Art Cohen of Hollidaysburg, blames the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for allowing Padilla to remain in the United States.

Padilla, 27, came to America as a young boy with his mother and brothers to escape an alcoholic father.

He graduated from Penn Cambria High School but never became a U.S. citizen.

He was involved in a stabbing incident in which the victim was his then-father-in-law.

ICE never took Padilla into custody or attempted to deport him.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, spoke of the case on the House floor, saying ICE did nothing about Padilla.

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Blair DA Still Preparing For August Start Of Padilla Trial

Chris Forshey, WRTAnews.com, July 14, 2006

Blair County District Attorney Rich Consiglio says a recent appeal to the State Supreme Court should not delay the start of the August trial for an illegal alien charged with gunning down three people outside an Altoona nightclub last year.

On Friday, an Arizona attorney on behalf of the Mexican government and 25-year-old Miguel Padilla, filed paperwork in the Blair County Courthouse saying it should have an oversight rule in the Padilla case, and it would now take the case to the State Supreme Court. It’s a request that Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter has twice denied. Carpenter wrote in a May 18th decision that Mexico had no involvement in the case because it’s a domestic issue, and that Padilla had a court appointed attorney assigned to him after Mexico initially stayed out of the case.

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Consiglio contends that Padilla is being treated just like any other person who is arrested and charged with a homicide. He says he won’t allow the case to be handled differently from anyone else’s just because he has dual citizenship. Padilla faces the death penalty if convicted. There is no word yet on when the State Supreme Court will take up the issue.


Memorial to Steven Heiss by the Correctional Peace Officers Association.

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