HAZLETON, Pa. — 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. ‘Illegal immigrants are destroying the city,’ said Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican. ‘I don’t want them here, period.’ 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. As Congress debates changes to the nation’s immigration policy, some cities are taking matters into their own hands, saying they have no choice but to crack down on illegal immigrants themselves. Barletta said he had to act after two illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic were charged last month with shooting and killing a man. Other recent incidents involving illegal immigrants have rattled this former coal town 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, including the arrest of a 14-year-old boy for firing a gun at a playground. ‘This is crazy,’ said Barletta, who took office in 2000. […]

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