http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/news/14813446.htm Barletta: Illegals are not welcome Hazleton mayor proposes a ban on hiring, renting to illegal immigrants. By MICHAEL P. BUFFER firstname.lastname@example.org HAZLETON Mayor Lou Barletta has proposed an ordinance that would prohibit and punish the hiring of illegal immigrants and renting property to them. I dont want them here in Hazleton, Barletta said. Theyre not wanted. The jobs most work are selling drugs. Many I am dealing with are not law-abiding citizens. The citys population has spiked from 23,000 to 31,000 residents in six years because of an influx of Hispanics. Barletta said he doesnt know how many of the citys new residents are in the country illegally. Many new residents are a productive part of our community, Barletta said. But a group of people are here illegally, not paying taxes, using city resources, and I have just had enough of it, the Republican mayor added. The proposed ordinance also would make English the citys official language. That means all city communication, including signs and forms, could only be in English unless it violates an explicit federal mandate. Barletta plans to present the City of Hazleton Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance to city council at tomorrows meeting for the first of three readings. If approved, the measure would be the first of its type in the United States, Barletta said. The San Bernardino City Council rejected a similar ordinance last month, but residents of the southern California city are trying to put the ordinance on the ballot for a citywide vote. Somebody needs to take a stand on this, Barletta said, noting estimates that put about 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. I want to send the message: Dont come to Hazleton. The proposed ordinance says 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. Barletta noted some recent high-profile crimes in the city committed by illegal immigrants. Last month, two illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic were charged in the May 10 shooting death of a 29-year-old man near his East Chestnut Street home. In response to the population growth, the city has increased its police force from 23 to 32 officers, Barletta said. Were hiring three more in the next few weeks, and thats still not nearly enough, the mayor said. Its not fair to be using resources on people who dont belong here. Officials estimate the citys Hispanic population between 7,000 and 9,000, about 23 percent to 29 percent of the city population. Hispanics accounted for just 3 percent of Hazletons population in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. I am not against immigration, but everyone should do it the legal way, Barletta said, adding some of his grandparents and great-grandparents learned English after legally entering the United States from Italy. A couple years ago, the city began printing zoning applications and permits in Spanish, the mayor said. We tried to accommodate the new arrivals, he said. Amilcar Arroyo, who publishes a Spanish newspaper in the city, said he supports the proposed ordinance. To me, its OK to fight the crime. English is the official language. If you come here, you should learn English, Arroyo said. Under the proposed ordinance, the city would reject a business permit, the renewal of a business permit and city contracts or grants for a period of not less than five years from a businesss last offense hiring or attempting to hire an illegal alien, renting or leasing to illegal aliens, or funding or aiding in the establishment of a day laborer center that does not verify legal work status. Any act that aids and abets illegal aliens within the United States, not just within the City limits, will constitute a violation, the proposed ordinance says. Any property owner or renter/tenant/lessee in control of property who allows an illegal alien to use, rent or lease their property would face a fine of not less than $1,000, irrespective of intent, knowledge or negligence. We wont punish a landlord if he is given false documentation, Barletta said.