Thursday, July 13, 2006
BREAKING NEWS: Hazleton City Council passes ordinance
The Hazleton (Pennsylvania) City Council passed Mayor Lou Barletta's Illegal Immigration Relief Act.Thursday, 13 July 2006 The vote was 4-1 Thursday night. The Act imposes severe penalties on landlords who rent space to illegal immigrants, suspends the licenses of businesses that employ them, and declares English the city's official language. The LA Times report can be read by clicking here.
The ordinance can be viewed by clicking here. Mayor Louis J. Barletta, in "An Open Letter from Mayor Lou Barletta," offers his plea for the ordinance:
I believe the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. People who are in this country have an incredible amount of opportunities and blessings. But some people have taken advantage of America’s openness and tolerance. Some come to this country and refuse to learn English, creating a language barrier for city employees. Others enter the country illegally and use government services by not paying taxes or by committing crime on our streets, further draining resources here in Hazleton. Illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates, contributes to overcrowded classrooms and failing schools, subjects our hospitals to fiscal hardship and legal residents to substandard quality of care, and destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life. The City of Hazleton is empowered and mandated by the people of Hazleton to abate the nuisance of illegal immigration by aggressively prohibiting and punishing the acts, policies, people and businesses that aid and abet illegal aliens. That is why I proposed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. Part of this ordinance, if enacted, would punish companies that hire illegal immigrants by denying them permits, making it harder for them to renew permits and forcing their loss of city business. Another part would hold landlords accountable. Because people moving into the city naturally require a place to sleep, our landlords are our first line of defense. Landlords who rent to illegal immigrants—that is, who rent to people without checking their documentation, may be fined $1,000.00 for every illegal immigrant staying on their properties. The final part of this ordinance makes English the official language of Hazleton. All city documents will only be available in English. Those applying for a permit would have to speak English. While our emergency services will never be denied to anyone because of a language barrier, every other aspect of city business will be conducted only in English. Let me be clear, this ordinance is intended to make Hazleton one of the most difficult places in the U.S. for illegal immigrants. This measure is not racist because it does not target one particular race. The Illegal Immigration Relief Act is intended to deter and punish any illegal immigration in the City of Hazleton. Requiring the use of English does not target any other language; it merely states that no matter what language you prefer to speak at home, English will be spoken when you conduct business with Hazleton officials. Illegal Immigration is a drain on city resources. Every domestic incident, every traffic accident, every noise complaint, each time we send our police department, fire department or code enforcement officer to respond, it costs taxpayer dollars. If the City of Hazleton began publishing official documents or conducting business in a second language, how would we respond when someone asks us to use a third, or fourth language? Recent crimes – the shooting on Chestnut Street, the discharge of firearms at the Pine Street Playground, and high profile drug busts – have involved illegal immigrants. Sadly, some of those allegedly involved in those crimes were detained by other law enforcement officials over the years, but were somehow allowed to remain in this country. They eventually migrated into Hazleton, where they helped create a sense of fear in the good, hardworking residents who are here legally. This ordinance does not roll back the welcome mat to those who are legally in the United States. This country was built on the backs of legal immigrants. My own great grandparents came to this country seeking a better life. Rather, this ordinance seeks to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Hazleton. They are not welcome here! To the residents of Hazleton, I say thank you for your continued support. Hazleton is moving forward and becoming an even better place to live. To our recently arrived legal immigrants, I say welcome. I personally wish you all the best. With hard work and determination, the United States and Hazleton can be a place where your dreams come true. And to illegal immigrants and those who would hire or abet them in any way, I say your time is up. You are no longer welcome. If you support this measure, please click this link to email us your support . You can also show your support by attending the City Council meeting on Thursday, June 15th @ 7:00 P.M. where this ordinance will be presented to Council for approval. The next council meeting where the second reading will take place is July 13th @ 7:00 P.M. Please mail your petition in before that date to show your support. You may also contact my office at 570-459-4910. Thank you and God Bless America. LOU BARLETTA Mayor, City of Hazleton http://www.hazletoncity.org/illegal_immigration_petition.htm
It surely seems that this ordinance is unconstitutional, infringing on the federal power to regulate immigration. Doesn't this misguided law suggest that the federal government's efforts to get the local police to assist in immigration enforcement, is misplaced?