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Altoona illegal immigrant ordinance goes into effect

A city ordinance aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants is to go into effect Saturday.

The measure aims to pressure illegal immigrants by punishing companies that hire them and landlords who rent to them.

Altoona City Council in September voted 6-1 to adopt the "Undocumented Alien Control Ordinance" proposal, which is similar to a measure passed in Hazleton earlier this year.

The vote came just 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.

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.

The ordinance requires local authorities to consult the U.S. Attorney General's Office or the Department of Homeland Security before confronting any suspected illegal immigrants, said Mark Ernest, director of the Codes Department, which is responsible for enforcing the measure.

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