Former Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who is running for governor in Pennsylvania, vowed during an interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday to rid the state of sanctuary policies should he win his race.
Barletta, who gained attention during his decade-long tenure as Hazleton mayor for his fight against illegal migration, said banning sanctuary jurisdictions would be his first priority in responding to the current flood of illegal migrants at the southern border.
“The first and foremost thing would be to stop sanctuary cities,” Barletta said. “You want to talk about a magnet to draw people in to the state of Pennsylvania?”
Barletta zoned in specifically on Philadelphia, which has repeatedly ranked as one of the most crime-ridden major cities in the U.S. and closed out 2020 with its highest number of homicides since 1990 at 499. He tied the high crime rate to illegal migration and blamed Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) for his role in perpetuating the issue.
“When you have a sanctuary city, when you have a mayor who actually danced when he found out — Mayor Kenney danced when he found out that Philadelphia could become a sanctuary city,” Barletta said.
The dance Barletta mentioned is a reference to Kenney’s celebration in 2018 after a federal judge sided with the city over the Trump administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ), ruling that DOJ could not withhold federal funding from the city over what it perceived to be a lack of compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
— Steve Preston (@StevePrest) June 6, 2018
Barletta added that Kenney’s pro-sanctuary city stance is “putting all the people in Philadelphia at risk.”
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Philadelphia law enforcement is prohibited from honoring ICE detainers against its city’s illegal aliens unless the illegal alien has a prior first degree or second degree felony offense involving violence, as well as an arrest warrant accompanying the detainer. Local law enforcement are also prohibited from notifying ICE of the pending release of “subjects of interest to ICE unless [that same] criteria is met.”
“I mean, look at the crime rates in Philadelphia. Look what’s happening. Look at the drugs that are being poured into that city and across Philadelphia,” Barletta said. “When you declare yourself a sanctuary city, you are literally advertising that you can come here and we will protect you and you can go about your business. That will stop immediately when I become governor of Pennsylvania.”
Barletta added he believes E-verify also needs enforcement in his state. E-verify is the process of employers checking that potential employees are authorized to work in the U.S. by running them through a federal data system. A handful of red states mandate all employers use it, whereas several other states, including Pennsylvania, require it of public contractors.
“We have to protect the Pennsylvania workers, without question. Illegal immigration cost — just last year — cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $1.38 billion, 1.38 billion,” Barletta contended. “So when we’re saying, ‘Where are we going to get the money for our infrastructure? Where are we going to get the money for our education for our children? Where are we going to get the money to do some of the things in our communities?’ Let’s start with almost one and a half billion dollars just by cracking down on illegal immigration. … Now how do you provide services to people who are not paying taxes? There’s nothing good about illegal immigration, and we’re going to make sure we’re protecting legal immigrants, legal Pennsylvania workers, and as far as advertising to come to Pennsylvania if you’re in the country illegally, that’s going to end.”
Barletta, a Hazleton native, is running among a crowded field of Republican contenders for governor who are vying to replace Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who is term-limited and unable to seek reelection. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D), who has been endorsed by Wolf, is running on the Democrats’ side.
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected].