Former mayor and congressman Lou Barletta, leading Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, today called on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass a resolution demanding that Attorney General Josh Shapiro file a lawsuit against the Biden administration for violations of the Refugee Act of 1980. Biden has been sending secret charter flights of illegal immigrants to Pennsylvania without consulting with both the state and affected local governments beforehand, as required by the Act.
Barletta also laid out policies he would pursue as governor to prevent the resettlement of illegal immigrants in Pennsylvania in order to protect the health and safety of legal residents.
A charter flight carrying adult illegal immigrants landed at Harrisburg International Airport on January 10, 2022, with the passengers being met by buses and transported to the former Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility, now being used as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. This is an apparent violation of the Refugee Act as it is likely that the illegal immigrants are being treated as refugees as they are processed in the system with any asylum claims awaiting consideration.
Over the last month, Barletta has drawn significant attention to the secret charter flights into Pennsylvania, beginning as early as December 11, 2021, according to the best available information. Including the January 10, 2022 flight into Harrisburg, at least seven charter flights originating in El Paso, Texas have landed in the Commonwealth, first at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport, and then at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown. Known flights into Wilkes-Barre Scranton occurred on December 11, December 17, and twice on Christmas night. Known flights into Allentown occurred on December 30, New Year's night, and January 8, 2022.
“Joe Biden’s border crisis is out of control, and he has been sending illegal immigrants to Pennsylvania, while Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro throw up their hands and claim they are powerless to do anything about it,” Barletta said. “They’re wrong. According to the law, the federal government must consult with the state and localities before sending illegal immigrants here, and that clearly has not happened. If he wants to be governor, Josh Shapiro should show that he’ll stand up and fight for Pennsylvania, because he hasn’t done that yet.”
The Refugee Act of 1980
Having broken the law to cross the U.S. border with Mexico, the illegal immigrants are being dispersed to Pennsylvania. The Biden Administration is effectively treating them as refugees, regardless of their legal status or the fact that any asylum claims remain pending. This is what should trigger the requirements of the Refugee Act of 1980.
Barletta is asking Pennsylvania legislators to push Shapiro to file a lawsuit alleging that the Biden administration is in violation of the Act, which states that the federal government “shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.”
When refugees are being resettled, the Act further requires the federal government to provide a mechanism for local voluntary agencies to “meet with representatives of State and local governments to plan and coordinate in advance of their arrival the appropriate placement of refugees among the various States and localities.”
Barletta said it is clear that the Biden administration has violated the law.
“If Wolf and Shapiro had been consulted by the Biden administration, they would have said so,” Barletta said. “And in my conversations with local government officials, it is clear that they have not been consulted either. This is an obvious violation of the law, and as Attorney General, Josh Shapiro is duty-bound to protect the citizens of this Commonwealth.”
Barletta wrote a letter to Wolf and Shapiro on December 23, 2021 demanding answers about their knowledge of the flights, and whether the illegal immigrants on board had undergone thorough background checks and health screenings.
It took more than a week for Wolf and Shapiro to respond to Barletta – and then they replied only through the media – and both issued similar statements through spokespeople that the issue was strictly for the federal government to handle.
“Our office has no authority in federal aviation and immigration matters, which are handled by U.S. Congress,” said Shapiro’s spokesperson, either mistakenly or deliberately ignoring the requirements of the Refugee Act of 1980.
Barletta, who has fought against illegal immigration since his time as the mayor of Hazleton, has repeatedly expressed concern about introducing illegal immigrants to the population without proper criminal background investigations. He also noted that it is difficult to determine the actual age of those appearing to be minors, citing 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.
As the Commonwealth is facing an ongoing threat from the coronavirus pandemic, Barletta has noted that there has been no proof that COVID screenings were conducted on adults or children on the flights, and no information has been provided that the passengers had been vaccinated for COVID.
In addition, Pennsylvania school students are required to be vaccinated against a number of diseases, including polio, hepatitis, mumps, and measles before they enter school, and there is no evidence that children on the airplanes have received those inoculations. These immunizations are required by law and are different from the unconstitutional Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandates issued by the Executive Branch of the federal government.
Because of these concerns, Barletta announced that as governor, he would:
Prohibit state and local agencies from conducting business with any private entities which assist in the resettlement of illegal immigrants, if the resettlement does not adhere to federal laws like the Refugee Act. Examples would be companies like the charter bus operators that helped transport the illegal immigrants from Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport and Allentown.
Prohibit the granting or renewal of any licenses to entities to provide assistance to Unaccompanied Alien Minors unless there is a cooperative agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.
Prohibit admittance to Pennsylvania schools any illegal immigrant minors who are not verified to have been fully immunized as required by state law.
Combat the overall issue of illegal immigration head-on by banning sanctuary cities and ending dangerous local policies that prohibit law enforcement agencies from notifying federal authorities when an illegal immigrant is lawfully detained on local charges.
“Pennsylvanians deserve a governor who will protect their safety and health and we do not have that right now,” Barletta said. “When I’m governor, I will not bow to political correctness, and I will not roll over for the failed Biden administration.”