Column: Donald Trump’s strategy will restore sense to flawed immigration system

By Rep. Lou Barletta

When I was mayor of Hazleton, I learned firsthand how illegal immigration hurts small-town America. I also learned that the federal government was not going to do anything to stop it.

Like many Americans, I am tired of politicians in Washington who talk about securing our borders and fighting illegal immigration, only to fail to deliver on more broken promises.

Donald Trump is not a politician. He immediately caught my attention as the only presidential candidate to seriously highlight the problem of illegal immigration, correctly pointing out that it threatens both our national security and American jobs. Despite constant attacks by the media, liberal opponents and even members of his own party, Trump has remained committed to addressing this issue. He has laid out a smart plan to enforce our immigration laws, secure our borders and protect American workers.

I became convinced of the federal government’s inability to address the problem of illegal immigration in 2006, when Derek Kichline, a 29-year-old city resident and father of three young kids, was shot and killed while working on his pickup truck. The killer, an illegal immigrant and known gang member, had been arrested and released from custody more than a half-dozen times in New York City – a sanctuary city that refused to honor federal immigration laws.

The first bill I introduced in Congress cracked down on sanctuary cities by withholding federal funding from them until they abandoned these dangerous policies. Yet, even after the murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant and convicted felon in San Francisco, a sanctuary city, politicians in Washington refused to muster the courage to send my bill to the president’s desk.

Ending sanctuary cities is a primary focus of Trump’s candidacy. Trump has pledged to enforce our current immigration laws and withhold funding from sanctuary cities. Trump also will allow federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to do their jobs and deport illegal immigrants with criminal records.

Too often in the debate about illegal immigration, we hear about those who knowingly break our laws and commit further crimes and acts of violence at the expense of law-abiding citizens. By standing tough against illegal immigration and prioritizing the elimination of sanctuary cities, Trump is giving voice to the victims of those crimes.

While Trump’s proposed wall along our southern border will help to stop the unmitigated flow of illegal immigrants into our country, Trump is right to also focus on reforming our broken visa system. Nearly 50 percent of the people illegally present in the United States today arrived legally on a visa, the visa expired, and they never went home. I am encouraged that Trump’s immigration plan includes making overstaying a visa a criminal offense, rather than only a civil offense, and implementing a biometric entry and exit system so we can accurately determine who has left the country and who has illegally stayed – measures I have long championed.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has pledged a radical expansion of President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants – a move that would weaken our border security and place an enormous cost on hardworking taxpayers. At a time when President Obama’s health care law is driving up costs for American workers and families, Clinton is proposing to expand Obamacare to illegal immigrants. And despite testimony by top national security officials that we cannot properly vet refugees coming from Syria, Clinton has called for admitting 500 percent more Syrian refugees.

We have immigration laws for two reasons: to protect national security and to preserve American jobs. Donald Trump’s plan abides by this core principle.

I look forward to helping Trump tackle this critical national security challenge and fight for working Americans.

Originally published in the Times Leader. Read it here.

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Barletta Participates in National Security Meeting with Donald Trump

NEW YORK – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today participated in a national security roundtable with Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump at Trump Tower to discuss strategies for defeating radical Islamic terrorism and keeping America safe.

“Donald Trump today reinforced that ensuring the safety of the American people will be his administration’s top priority and that he has a plan to bolster our national security. We discussed ways to improve communication between federal and local law enforcement so that we can better detect terrorist activity, stop the flow of refugees into our country until we can be certain they do not pose a threat to American lives, and crack down on illegal immigration, including our faulty visa system. Throughout our meeting, Trump was thoughtful, deliberative, and interested in the opinions of those in attendance.

“The distinction between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s national security plans could not be more clear. Clinton has a record of foreign policy failures that threaten our national security and American lives, from her mishandling of top-secret information as secretary of state to her proposal for admitting 500 percent more Syrian refugees without adequately screening them. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has offered commonsense proposals that will keep us safe and has demonstrated that he is not afraid to identify the enemy we are fighting.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Trump campaign to create a safer America.”

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Barletta seeks help for grandparents raising children of addicted parents

Originally published in the Citizens’ Voice.

KINGSTON — U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said Tuesday the country’s social services network is antiquated and changes need to come to help people like grandparents raising grandchildren born to addicted parents.

Barletta, R-Hazleton, met with a few grandparents in the office of attorney David Saba to discuss what can be done to provide financial help for grandparents with limited resources to assure their grandchildren are provided a safe care plan.

“I want to help,” Barletta said. “We have to do more to help these grandparents and their grandchildren, many who were born addicted through no fault of their own.”

Saba and his wife, Brenda, are raising their 9-year-old grandson, Tanner, who they adopted in 2014. The Sabas previously told their story at a meeting of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in October 2014. Dave Saba, 67, said Tanner’s parents were addicted to drugs and after several interventions and failed rehab stays — including jail time — Saba and his wife knew what had to be done.

Following a family meeting with Tanner’s biological father and grandparents, the Sabas sought and were granted custody of Tanner. They said when they were faced with the reality of a difficult situation, they did what they had to do.

Brenda Saba said her situation is not unusual, and there are many others in Luzerne County faced with the same task of raising grandchildren. She said in 2014 in Luzerne County, there were 2,000 custody filings — 60 percent of them filed by grandparents seeking custody of grandchildren. Many of those cases, Saba said, involved drug-addicted parents.

The congressman said he is aware of the problem, noting he has seen statistics that show a baby is born addicted to drugs every 25 minutes. Barletta said he has worked hard to see that those infants are cared for, and people addicted to drugs need to be treated, not incarcerated.

“Addiction is an illness and it must be treated,” Barletta said. “And babies must be taken from their addicted mothers and placed with people who will care for them.”

However, Saba said, many grandparents are on fixed incomes and not eligible for benefits to care for young children. Barletta said he will discuss the situation with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“These situations have changed family dynamics,” Barletta said. “The family structure has been re-structured.”

Saba said the financial demands of raising a child have restricted her and her husband’s lifestyle and delayed his retirement from his legal practice.

Barletta was a member of the conference committee that worked out the differences between House and Senate versions of a new, sweeping approach to combating the opioid epidemic – a package which contains his own bill that specifically protects addicted newborns and their caregivers.

The legislation combines educational and prevention programs, enhanced treatment and increased law enforcement efforts to provide a comprehensive approach to the expanding problem of opioid abuse. The House and Senate approved the legislation and President Obama has signed it into law.

On Thursday, Barletta will co-host a forum in Central Pennsylvania to discuss the growing opioid epidemic facing the state’s communities, as well as the efforts underway to combat the problem. The forum is set for 6 to 8 p.m. at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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Barletta’s Presents Brandon’s Forever Home with Award

Originally published in the Standard Speaker.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, presented an Angels in Adoption award to Brandon’s Forever Home, the non-profit organization focused on raising awareness of adoption and foster care and placing children with loving, permanent families.

Brandon’s Forever Home was founded two years ago in Hazleton by state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, and local attorney Lorine Ogurkis, who each have their own personal experiences with adoption and foster children.

Barletta nominated the group for the honor, awarded each year by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

The Angels in Adoption award is considered prestigious in the world of adoption and foster care.

Read more here.

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SHINE On

The best thing we can do for the future of our country is better the lives of our children. After-school programs like SHINE, which emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, are doing just that.

SHINE is a data-driven after-school program that works.  Ninety-nine percent of students in SHINE pass to the next grade, while improving their grades, attendance and behavior. I have been a strong proponent of SHINE and even helped to expand its reach from Carbon and Schuylkill counties to Luzerne County.

But because Washington is out of touch, Congress recently moved to eliminate funding for SHINE.

I fought hard to rescue the program. As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, I successfully negotiated 14 changes to legislation in support of afterschool programs, and specifically SHINE, and repeatedly urged my House and Senate colleagues to sign-on to these efforts.

I am proud to have saved this program that opens up new possibilities for students who might otherwise not even consider their potential.

Last week, I visited the SHINE program at the Carbon Career and Technical Institute and saw kids engaged in hands-on learning. They were building robots, constructing bridges, and developing skills that will help them gain jobs.

SHINE proves that educational decisions are best left to the people who are closest to the students. I look forward to continuing to fight to move power out of Washington, D.C., and back into our own communities.

— Lou

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Letter to the Editor: Challenger wrong about Barletta

I am writing in response to inaccurate claims made by Mike Marsicano about Congressman Lou Barletta in a recent article (Press Enterprise, July 10). As a county commissioner who has worked closely with Lou and his office, I know firsthand that he is making real progress for our communities.

Lou was instrumental in securing a $15 million federal grant for the construction of the Bloomsburg Flood Wall. He brought members of House leadership, including former Speaker John Boehner, to Bloomsburg to tour flood damage and secure support for rebuilding after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. His leadership helped to save nearly 1,000 local jobs.

Lou has conducted dozens of Main Street Tours across the 11th Congressional District, including Bloomsburg, Berwick, Catawissa, Danville, Shamokin, and Mt. Carmel, where he hears from residents and small business owners about what needs to be done in Washington. He always gets his best ideas from people in the real world who make the economy go.

His connection to his constituents is reflected in his work as a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee subcommittee chairman, where he has saved taxpayers more than $3 billion by revamping the way the federal government handles its real estate leases. While bureaucrats in Washington are reckless in seeking to spend every dime they can, Lou has been watching out for the taxpayers of the 11th Congressional District.

And unlike Mike Marsicano, who said “Obama made a good start” with Obamacare, Lou has worked to strengthen seniors’ benefits by working to repeal and replace Obamacare with more affordable options. He continued the fight against the consequences of Obama’s flawed health care law by successfully pressuring the IRS to exempt volunteer fire fighters from the costly Employer Mandate. Without Lou’s leadership, local volunteer fire companies across the country would have been forced to close, risking public safety here at home.

Every time we need Lou, he’s there, and that’s incredibly important to local elected officials like me. I’m proud to support Lou and the work he’s doing for the 11th Congressional District.

RICH RIDGWAY

Bloomsburg

Press Enterprise

Published July 14, 2016

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Letter to the editor: Barletta fighting for change

Originally published in the Daily Item.

I’m writing in response to Richard Yost’s recent letter (“Challengers Emerge,” June 24) which wrongly portrayed Congressman Lou Barletta’s record of service.

In fact, as member of my local volunteer fire department and several volunteer fire services groups nationally, I know first-hand that Lou is fighting for the communities he represents.

I met Lou during a firefighter’s parade in Mechanicsburg in September of 2013. It was then that I brought to his attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had been counting emergency services volunteers as full-time employees under Obamacare’s employer mandate.

According to the mandate, volunteer fire companies with 50 or more volunteers had to provide volunteers with health insurance, an unrealistic expectation that would have closed fire departments across the country, or pay crippling penalties.

Several national volunteer fire services groups wrote a letter to the IRS seeking clarity on this issue early in the summer of 2013. I asked for Lou’s help during that parade. He, too, wrote a letter, but the IRS ignored him as well.

Lou didn’t stop there.

He immediately drafted legislation protecting volunteer firefighters and emergency services volunteers from Obamacare’s employer mandate.

 Because of Lou’s leadership on this issue, the IRS eventually relented and issued a new set of regulations consistent with Lou’s bill.

Lou’s efforts prove that he is both responsive to the concerns of his constituents and a strong enough leader to force meaningful change.

He is exactly the type of representative we want fighting for us in Washington.

Robert Timko,

New Cumberland

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Pipeline safety bill with Barletta Amendment signed into law

Rep. Lou Barletta on Tuesday hailed the signing of pipeline safety legislation into law, noting that it included his language that protects the ability of states to use their own inspectors when dealing with federal agencies.

President Barack Obama has signed the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act, which reauthorizes the pipeline safety program administered by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

“In Pennsylvania, our Public Utility Commission has been trying to arrange an agreement under which we could use our own pipeline inspectors, instead of relying on regional federal inspectors who are not as available or accessible,” Barletta, R-11, Hazleton, said in a news release. “This legislation allows Pennsylvania and other states better flexibility in keeping pipelines safe.”

PHMSA has only five regional offices to serve the entire country, Barletta said. States need to have interstate agent agreements with PHMSA to use their own network of inspectors.

His language requires the Government Accountability Office to study interstate agent agreements to examine their benefits.

Read more here.

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Barletta Statement Regarding Donald Trump’s National Security Speech

HAZLETON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) released the following statement reacting to Donald Trump’s national security speech in the wake of the Orlando shootings:

“As investigators continue to gather information about the horrific terror attack in Orlando, I urge everyone to join me in continuing to keep the victims, their families, and the heroic law enforcement officers and first responders in our thoughts and prayers.

“The first step to combatting terrorists is recognizing the motivating force behind their actions. Sadly, our current leadership refuses to do this. While Donald Trump rightly acknowledges the threat radical Islam poses to our values and freedoms, Barack Obama refuses to even recognize radical Islam by name, much less take proper action to defeat it. He is unwilling to kill ISIS fighters abroad and allowing them to metastasize because of his lack of leadership, and Hillary Clinton represents more of the same.

“In his speech today, Donald Trump cited a number of issues with our immigration system that I have been working to address for more than a decade, including fixing dangerous flaws with our visa system and stopping the flow of Syrian refugees into the United States until we can properly vet them. I was also pleased to hear him discuss this issue in terms of not only national security, but also financial security, as illegal immigration depresses wages for legal immigrants and American workers. We need a Commander in Chief who is unafraid to define threats to our country and put forth the policies necessary to protect the American people, not one who bows to political correctness. Donald Trump has once again made clear that he is committed to securing our borders and fighting Islamic extremism.”

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Rep. Lou Barletta considered one of Donald Trump’s ‘most trusted’ members of Congress

By Bill O’Boyle

WILKES-BARRE — When Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, became one of the first members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, he went against both the Washington establishment and his own party.

Now, Trump has asked Barletta to write a policy paper on illegal immigration. And a Washington Post story claims Barletta is one of Trump’s “most trusted” members of Congress.

“I was one of the first to come out and support Trump before it was popular,” Barletta said. “As a result, (U.S. Rep.) Tom Marino and I were appointed co-chairs of Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania. His victory in the Pennsylvania Primary was big for him overall and pivotal in Trump going on to secure the nomination.”

Barletta said Trump’s campaign feels a Pennsylvania victory in the November General Election could mean the difference in Trump winning the White House.

In an email, Jon Anzur, Barletta’s campaign manager, said The Washington Post recently published an article naming Barletta and Marino as two of Trump’s most trusted members of Congress.

From The Post story: “Trump insiders say both men’s endorsements were crucial in helping Trump win Pennsylvania in April. That night, you’ll recall, was Trump’s five-state sweep in the Northeastern primary and seemingly the beginning of the end of the Republican nominating contests.

“Barletta is an immigration hard-liner who likes Trump’s idea to build a wall and Marino, who represents a conservative, more rural section of northeastern Pennsylvania, told the online publication Politico endorsing Trump was ‘one of my life-changing moments.’”

The Post story said “Trump’s early endorsers are playing a pivotal role in helping the nominee expand his appeal in Washington. They even hold weekly strategy meetings with Trump’s campaign (that have become standing-room only) to talk policy and politics.”

Barletta said the group meets weekly with Trump’s top campaign people in Washington.

“When we first started, we could have held those meetings in a phone booth,” he said Monday. “Now, we need a bigger room” as 30 to 40 members of Congress attend the meetings.

“They’re starting to rally around Trump,” he said. “Once it became obvious that he would be the Republican nominee, it became safer to affiliate with him.”

Barletta said he knew endorsing Trump would not be popular with GOP leadership and there could be repercussions.

“And now I’ve been asked to write a policy paper on illegal immigration,” Barletta said. “I will be giving it to him soon.”

Barletta said Trump has not made any promises to him, nor has he asked for any favors.

Barletta said illegal immigration has been his top priority since before he was elected to Congress.

“Nobody in Washington has done anything to address this,” Barletta said. “I believe Trump will.”

Barletta feels Trump appreciates how difficult it was for him to go against Republican leadership.

“I was outspoken,” Barletta said. “My endorsement wasn’t a silent endorsement. I didn’t hide. I spoke out.

“I didn’t just dip my toe in the water — I dove in head first and I know he appreciates that,” Barletta added.

Originally published by the Times Leader.

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