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[Note: See Mayor Lou Barletta’s letter below, with URL of his new web site which includes a petition for supporters to sign.]
Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta and Gov. Ed Rendell traded barbs over a new city ordinance that cracks down on illegal immigrants, with Rendell saying during a Thursday stop in Scranton that it had been drafted by “mean-spirited” politicians who “feed off hate and divisiveness.”
Barletta disagreed, saying the ordinance simply upholds the law. The only mean-spirited remarks that Barletta said he could recall were made by two members of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, who publicly called Hazleton a “Nazi city” and said that Latinos would never assimilate into American culture.
Rendell called the ordinance and similar crackdowns on illegal immigrants a “mean-spirited” work of politicians and said initiatives such as Hazleton’s are skewing the national debate over illegal immigrants.
“A lot of this is being pushed by politicians who absolutely want to keep your eyes away from real stuff,” Rendell said Thursday. “They feed off that and divisiveness. The only ones I want to hear speaking up and complaining about immigration are the Native Americans who we screwed.”
Barletta said he wants to know how upholding a law is “mean-spirited or divisive” and said he was “very surprised” when reading remarks made by the governor.
“I was surprised with the governor’s comments — especially since two members of his Governor’s (Advisory) Commission on Latino Affairs have gone on to say some pretty mean-spirited things at me and at the city with no response from the governor’s office,” Barletta said.
The mayor referred to remarks made by Anna Arias, who spoke out against the IIRA during a recent Hazleton City Council meeting and called him a “monkey” during a television interview.
“I would say that calling the mayor a ‘monkey’ during televised interviews, as the representative of the governor did, is also mean-spirited,” Barletta wrote. “The ordinance is not motivated out of anything other than a desire to protect the legal residents of Hazleton and make every precious taxpayer dollar go as far as it can.”
A spokeswoman from the governor’s office announced shortly after Arias made the remarks that Arias was not speaking on behalf of Rendell or the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs.
“If I ever had said that same thing to her or anyone else, they would’ve asked for my resignation the next day,” Barletta said. “I think I deserve the same respect I’ve shown. That’s why I’m taken aback by the governor — who did not respond to her hateful comments.”
(Posted on July 24, 2006)
Hon. Lou Barletta, July 24, 2006
This is Mayor Lou Barletta from Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support regarding the Illegal Immigration Relief Ordinance, which City Council passed on July 13.
As you can imagine, my office has been inundated by thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls of support — from coast to coast and border to border.
I am grateful for every sign of support. You have my personal thanks because we have accomplished this together.
Soon, Hazleton will implement the ordinance, which intends to make my city one of the toughest places in the country for illegal aliens by fining landlords who rent to illegal aliens and companies who knowingly hire them.
After suffering through several high-profile crimes involving illegal aliens, we’ve sent a clear message that we’ve had enough. Hazleton is working to take back our streets, our neighborhood, and our community.
Many people have asked for copies of the Illegal Immigration Relief Ordinance to present to their own elected officials.
Others have asked to be updated on our progress here in Hazleton.
I have created www.smalltowndefenders.com, a website that will be updated as events happen to keep you informed of our progress.
On www.smalltowndefenders.com, you will be able to find copies of the Illegal Immigration Relief Ordinance, as well as postings from me regarding the implementation of it and our responses to any legal challenges.
I invite you to take a moment to log on to www.smalltowndefenders.com. I encourage you to bookmark the page and visit it often.
Together, we can make a difference in America.
Thank you for your continued support.
Louis J. Barletta
Mayor, City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania