Pennsylvania Mayor Does His Job
Source: Monterey Herald
Mayor Lou Barletta agrees that as many as 10,000 newly arrived Latinos have invigorated this old coal town high in the Poconos, yet he pinched a national nerve and divided his own city last week by declaring war on illegal immigrants.What a concept. A mayor upholding and enforcing the law, and even proposing new law to benefit the citizen and legal alien residents of his town.
Barletta, 50, argues that illegal immigrants are a blight - responsible for a rise in crime, he contends - and a drain on city services they don't pay for.
"I've had enough," he said.
Barletta proposed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act ( an ordinance supported by a majority of the City Council. It would fine and penalize businesses that hire illegal immigrants and landlords who rent to them.
The ordinance also proposes making English the official language of Hazleton, removing Spanish from all documents.
Anna Arias, president of the Hazleton Area Latino Association, said, "The Latino community feels very offended and betrayed. Everyone thought Mayor Barletta was a good friend, a mayor for all the people. None of us expected anything like this from him."Barletta is your MAYOR, not your friend. And as for the "hard-working Latino immigrants who...don't speak good English yet," the mayor said a translator would be provided for those who haven't mastered English YET. But, if Hazleton is even the tiniest bit like my neighborhood in Chicago, a little, shall we say ENCOURAGEMENT, to learn English wouldn't go amiss.
Arias said the English-only provision insults hard-working Latino immigrants who have revitalized the city, but don't speak good English yet. And the knock on illegal immigrants, she says, is unfair. Most contribute to the rebirth of the city.
The mayor, a Republican, agrees "the Latino community has been good for Hazleton. All legal immigrants are welcome here." He says legal Latinos will benefit from this ordinance as much as lifelong residents.Lucky Hazleton. My mayor not only doesn't want to spend taxpayer money chasing down illegal aliens...he wants to spend it to welcome them with open arms.
"I can't spend taxpayer money chasing down people who don't belong in this country," he said.
Regan Cooper, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition in Philadelphia, said the ordinance is "overly broad and unenforceable." She claims it "violates state and federal statutes."What state and federal statutes does it violate, I wonder? Without giving specifics, her statement seems "overly broad" to me.
"Hazleton will be opening itself up to all sorts of lawsuits," she said.
Doug Rivlin, spokesman with the National Immigrant Forum in Washington, said he had some sympathy for the mayor.In the absence of any federal leadership. I couldn't have said it better myself.
"In the absence of any federal leadership," Rivlin said, "thousands of little towns are trying to figure out what to do."
Illegal Immigration * Lou Barletta * Hazleton * Law Enforcement