HAZLETON —U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta has emerged as a go-to guy for national media to interview on immigration in recent months.
He became versed on the subject as Hazleton mayor when his city passed an ordinance that sought to impose penalties to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into the city. That experience has made him a knowledgeable media source.
Barletta, 57, R-Hazleton, appeared on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos in February, and he has been on more than a dozen national radio shows. He also was featured on the cover of Roll Call last week.
A two-term congressman, he has come out strong against legislation being debated in the Senate and House of Representatives — proposed by a “Gang of 8” in each hall of Congress. The Gangs of 8 are comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans each and Barletta said he is trying to slow down the legislative process to give American people more of chance to become informed about what the effects of the bills will be.
“I’m opposed to any bill that offers amnesty, which the Senate bill does,” Barletta said. “We should not be talking about any pathway to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally before our borders are secure.”
He said passing the legislation will make “an already bad situation worse.”
“It’s not in the best interests of the American people to invite millions more here illegally while our borders are still open,” he said. “As soon as amnesty is approved, there will be a rush to the U.S.”
Barletta said President Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to about 1.5 million illegal immigrants in 1986 and then promptly promised that “we would never do this again.”
“It was a one-time deal,” Barletta said. “Reagan also promised to secure our borders.”
Barletta said inviting more immigrants to come in will only exacerbate the already stubborn U.S. unemployment problem.
A recent study done by the Heritage Foundation, he said, found giving amnesty to 11 million-plus whom are already in the U.S. will have devastating financial consequences.
“It will cost American taxpayers $2.6 trillion over the next 20 years,” Barletta said. “And that’s over and above any taxes that these people might pay.”
He said the so called “Gang of 8” in the Senate has been meeting secretly for most of this year. He has been trying to extract information about the bills to allow all members of Congress and the public to scrutinize it.
Barletta said he has taken issue with the plan to do background checks on his estimate of 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
“Basically, there will be no way of checking the criminal history of anyone from their country of origin,” he said. “Many times illegals use fraudulent documentation to take on new identities here in the U.S. and their criminal history under their real name is never found.”
Barletta said the demands on programs such as Medicare, Social Security, unemployment compensation, food stamps and other welfare programs will far outweigh the little taxes that will come in as the result of reform.