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As governor, Barletta will fight illegal immigration, unlike Wolf & Shapiro

Local officials endorse Barletta’s stance on illegal immigration

Lou Barletta blasts Wolf & Shapiro over inaction on illegal immigrant flights

After more than a week of outcry from local officials, and pressure from former mayor and congressman Lou Barletta, Gov. Tom Wolf finally responded to the revelation that the Biden administration has been sending secret charter flights carrying illegal immigrants to Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport. News reports indicate that the flights allegedly contain minors and some adults. Simply confirming that the flights are occurring, Gov. Wolf essentially told localities and residents that it’s not his problem. Barletta, a former mayor and congressman and currently the leading Republican candidate for governor, has also issued several proposals to combat illegal immigration at the state level, rather than blindly trusting that the federal government will help. Local leaders backed his approach and his pledge to keep localities informed. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth and likely Democratic candidate for governor, has yet to utter a word about the “ghost flights,” which are conducted in secrecy, with no information about the passengers, their history, or their health status. It has been confirmed that there have been four clandestine charter flights of illegal immigrants from El Paso, Texas to Northeast Pennsylvania: on December 11, December 17, and twice on Christmas night. Further flights are expected on December 30 and 31. On December 23, Barletta sent a letter to Wolf and Shapiro, detailing the problems with the flights, which include concerns that background checks and health screenings are extremely difficult to conduct on individuals after they have entered the country illegally. Barletta also expressed alarm that no one will disclose where the illegal immigrants are ultimately headed. While the federal Department of Health and Human Services claims that minors on the flights have been given “catch-up” vaccines for a variety of diseases, it is difficult to comprehend how that could be the case. Under Pennsylvania law, children are required to be immunized against many diseases, and some require multiple doses spread out over long periods of time. “I asked Gov. Wolf, did he know about this? Were they vaccinated?” said Barletta in an appearance on Fox News on Thursday morning this week. “And I’m not only talking about COVID. Pennsylvania law requires any minors, before they can go to school, to [be vaccinated for] polio, hepatitis, mumps, measles, chicken pox. Were there criminal background checks done? And where were they going? Shouldn’t the people in those communities, those school districts, know? And there was no answer at all.” According to Fox News, Wolf’s office issued a statement that said simply, “Over recent weeks, unaccompanied children passed through the Wilkes-Barre airport en route to their final destination to be unified with their parents or a vetted sponsor.” In an Associated Press story, Wolf’s office indicated that it was only a matter for federal authorities and referred to any questions about the flights as a “PR stunt.” In his letter to Wolf and Shapiro, Barletta reminded them that they swore an oath to protect the people of Pennsylvania. “I am drawing this issue to your attention because there are serious concerns that arise when accepting flights of illegal immigrants,” Barletta wrote. “As someone who dealt with the issue of illegal immigration extensively as the mayor of Hazleton and as a member of Congress, I know that it is extremely difficult to adequately screen people and conduct a thorough background check when they have entered the country by illegal means.” Barletta has also argued that it’s impossible to determine the actual age of any minors on board the flights and pointed to a recent incident in Florida, where an illegal immigrant claiming to be 17 years old was actually 24, and subsequently was charged with murder in a stabbing attack. Barletta listed several new proposals to protect Pennsylvania and local residents from illegal immigration when he is elected governor. First, Barletta would prohibit state and local agencies from conducting business with any private entities which assist in the resettlement of illegal immigrants, such as the charter bus companies that helped transport the illegal immigrants from Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport. Second, Barletta would prohibit the granting or renewal of any licenses to entities to provide assistance to Unaccompanied Alien Children unless there is a cooperative agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Third, Barletta would prohibit admittance to Pennsylvania schools for any illegal immigrant students who are not verified to have been fully immunized as required by state law. Barletta noted that this is different from Biden’s unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandate because it is governed by state law and not a federal Executive Branch directive. Local leaders applauded Barletta’s position and praised his persistence on the issue. “Maybe Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro aren’t concerned with what happens to the small towns in Pennsylvania, but the people who live here are,” said Mayor Justin Taylor of Carbondale, a registered Democrat in Lackawanna County. As a mayor, I worry about the kids in our schools, our local law enforcement, and the services we provide to taxpayers. When we hear about planeloads of illegal immigrants being shipped in, with no information at all from our state officials, we have no idea what impact it will have on public safety and public health. As a former mayor himself, Lou Barletta would never keep our communities guessing about what’s happening. And I know he would never allow what Biden, Wolf, and Shapiro are doing to us.” “Gov. Wolf and Attorney General Shapiro have apparently thrown up their hands to say they don’t have a role in keeping Pennsylvania safe in this situation,” said Chris Chermak, Lackawanna County Commissioner and vice chairman of the board that governs the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport. “They’ve shown blind faith in the Biden administration that we just don’t share, because we’re the ones at the local level who have to deal with this when the planes land. We’ve been kept totally in the dark and it’s a disservice to the citizens of this area and the entire Commonwealth. We need a governor who understands what we go through, and as a former mayor, Lou Barletta gets it.” ###

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