"With tensions rising and its police department and municipal budget stretched thin, this small northeastern Pennsylvania city is about to begin what the mayor calls one of the toughest crackdowns on illegal immigrants in the United States"
Last week Barletta introduced, and the City Council tentatively approved, a measure that would revoke the business licenses of companies that employ illegal immigrants; impose $1,000 fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants; and make English the city's official language.
Barletta acted after two illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic were charged with shooting and killing a man and the arrest of a 14-year-old boy for firing a gun at a playground.
Barletta, said "People are afraid to walk the streets. There's going to be law and order back in Hazleton and I'm going to use every tool I possibly can." I don't blame him one bit.
Barletta is following the Illegal Immigration Relief Act'' proposed by the Southern California city of San Bernardino rallied for in large part by activist Joseph Turner.
Both Turner's initiative and Hazleton's ordinance would punish those who rent housing to illegal immigrants by fining them at least $1,000, punish those who hire or do business with illegal immigrants by denying permits and contracts, and require city communications be conducted in English.
Turner's proposal would ban city-funded day labor centers. btw I view these city-funded day labor centers as a complete slap in the face to ALL American citizens.
Of course the detractors and open borders people are working hard to defeat such measures. Flavia Jimenez, an immigrant policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, predicted the Hazleton crackdown would prompt a civil rights lawsuits. And Armando Navarro, a UC Riverside professor and coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights, is helping plan a political and legal strategy to defeat the San Bernardino proposal. A meeting is set for 9 a.m. today. The San Bernardino Democratic Luncheon Club on Friday voted to strongly oppose the measure as well.
And it now looks like the court will have to settle this:
Turner collected more than 3,000 signatures in favor of it earlier this year, forcing the city to consider adopting it.
By a 4-3 vote at a May 15 meeting, the City Council declined to adopt it itself and sent the question to the voters. At a subsequent meeting, the council was scheduled to set the election, but opted against doing so after facing a legal challenge on whether Turner had collected enough signatures.
The city charter requires that signatures equal to 30 percent of the voters who voted in the last election in which a mayor was elected be collected to force a vote on an initiative.
After the city filed with the courts for so-called declaratory relief, a Superior Court judge will decide whether Turner should have used the city's November 2002 election as a benchmark or its February 2006 election, for which turnout was relatively high.
While the federal government continues to debate this issue or more likly look for a non-solution; solution. These cities out of frustration, lack of patients, or a feeling of hesitance to pass good illegal immigration reform. Have decided to (for a lack of a better term) opt for the do-it-yourself remady.
No doubt the actions of the these cities will fuel a hole host of heated debate on a myriad of issues including jurisdiction, who's reasonability it is, as well as the cost to the cities tax-payers.
I believe the best testimony comes from the citizens themselves.
"It's about time," said Francis X. Tucci, 57, who was born and raised in Hazleton and owns a hair salon with tiny American flags in the window in the heart of the Hispanic business district. "We were a nice community. You find bad everywhere, I understand that, but we're talking about here and now."
Some Hispanics approve, saying they are fed up with crime and graffiti. "If I was mayor, I wouldn't let anyone in who had a criminal record," said Rafael Rovira, 69, a naturalized American citizen from the Dominican Republic