Lou Barletta

Surprise! Donald Trump Wins Support From An Anti-Immigrant Icon

One of Congress’ most vocal opponents of immigration, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., endorsed Donald Trump today in an interview with the Washington Post, hailing the billionaire mogul for turning the GOP into “the party of America first.”

“Donald Trump’s voice is resonating with average Americans who feel their voice has been lost by their party,” Barletta said in a phone interview. “I believe this will become a new Republican Party, one that we should embrace. We should be the party of working men and women, the party of America first.”

“He caught my attention immediately when he highlighted illegal immigration and the open Southern border,” Barletta said. “The fact that he didn’t back down, well, he was criticized the same way I was as mayor. It was reminiscent of what I went through.”

“I’ve been called names, a racist and a bigot,” he added. “I fought my case all the way to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump will fight his case all the way to the White House.”

Barletta became an icon of the Nativist movement when he was serving as the mayor of Hazeltown, Pennsylvania, where he made a name for himself by targeting immigrant families. As we reported back in 2010:

Barletta rose to national prominence as the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a small working class city that in 2006 enacted some of the most draconian anti-immigrant measures in the country. Hazleton's law put tough penalties on individuals and businesses who knowingly or unknowingly did business with undocumented immigrants—it revoked for five years the business license of any business caught employing an undocumented immigrant, and slapped landlords caught renting to undocumented immigrants with a $1,000-a-day fine. The law also declared English the official language of Hazleton, and prohibited city officials from translating documents without permission.

When the law passed, Barletta told the Washington Post, "I will get rid of the illegal people. It's this simple: They must leave." On the day the city passed the measure, Barletta wore a bulletproof vest to illustrate his concern over crimes he said were being committed by undocumented immigrants. Statistics , however, showed that undocumented immigrants were hardly responsible for a crime wave in Hazelton: the city's data showed that of 8,575 felonies committed in the city between 2000 and 2007, 20 had been linked to undocumented immigrants. Later, forced to admit that he had no proof of an illegal immigrant-caused crime wave, or proof that illegal immigrants were crowding Hazleton's schools and hospitals, or even any idea how many illegal immigrants were in Hazelton, Barletta responded , "The people in my city don't need numbers."

While the courts ultimately struck down Barletta’s anti-immigrant policies and ordered the city to pay the legal fees of its opponents, the mayor’s anti-immigrant efforts helped to energize his successful bid for Congress and turned him into a favorite of groups like the far-right Federation for American Immigration Reform, which named Barletta to its National Board of Advisors.

Barletta’s ties with FAIR, a group with close ties to the white nationalist movement, make him a perfect fit for Trump, the white nationalists’ candidate of choice.

Indeed, Barletta once addressed a conference on the need for the GOP to give up on its efforts to appeal to Latino voters and instead increase its support from whites with an anti-immigrant campaign message, a strategy used by both Barletta and Trump.

Although Barletta claimed to be defending "the legal taxpayer of any race," he admitted that he found inspiration for the law from the website of self-described "proud nationalist" Jim Turner, who pushed a similar measure in San Bernardino, California to prevent the state from becoming, as he put it, a "Third World Cesspool."

As copy-cat laws started to pop up in towns around the country, Barletta became a hero to anti-immigrant and nativist groups. When he ran for Congress in 2008, Barletta's campaign received $10,920 from the Minuteman PAC, the political spending arm of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a vigilante border-patrol group that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls "nativist extremist." It was the largest donation the Minuteman PAC made to a candidate that year.

In 2009, Barletta drew fire for speaking at a conference hosted by The American Cause, a group that had earlier that year released a report urging the Republican Party to not "pander to pro-amnesty Hispanics and swing voters," and instead to put anti-immigrant policies at the forefront of the party's strategy. The report was authored by several anti-immigrant advocates, many who had clear records of dabbling in white supremacy. The executive director of the group, and main author of the report, had even been charged with a hate crime against an African American woman. The immigrants' rights group America's Voice described the 2009 conference as "a forum for white nationalists to forge ties with ‘mainstream' media commentators and conservative leaders."

GOP's Base Clamors To Impeach Obama

Nearly two years into President Obama’s second term, a do-nothing Republican Congress is focusing on its next project: the 2014 midterm elections. But that effort might be complicated by increasing pressure from the party’s base to turn Congress’ energy to impeaching President Obama. The impeachment call, which has existed on the right-wing fringe since the start of Obama’s presidency, has picked up steam in recent weeks as it has been endorsed by right-wing media figures, activists and elected officials.

This has put Republican congressional leaders in a tricky spot as they attempt to placate their base without alienating moderate voters. When House Majority Whip Steve Scalise appeared on Fox News Sunday this week, he continually dodged the question. Ted Cruz similarly batted away a question about impeachment, calling it politically unfeasible. Right-wing leaders including Pat Buchanan and Tom DeLay have urged caution in the impeachment campaign, although DeLay said he would personally “love to impeach him.” Likewise, Karl Rove has warned that when it comes to impeachment, “the politics of it are all wrong.”

Even Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, who last year distributed to every office on Capitol Hill a book on why the president should be impeached and removed from office and hired an attorney to look into impeachment, is now backtracking and warning that impeachment proceedings could benefit Democrats in the midterm elections.

Now, House Speaker John Boehner is claiming that talk of impeachment is a Democratic “scam” to win voters…an odd claim since it’s members of his own party who have been beating the drum about impeachment.

But it might be too late for Republicans to backtrack on a steady buildup of rhetoric questioning the president’s legitimacy, love of country, and authority to govern, which has led to increasing calls for impeachment from right-wing lawmakers, activists and media personalities... although nobody can quite agree on what the impeachment should be for.

  • In a radio interview last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that she believed the president has "committed impeachable offenses” but that first “the American people have to agree with and be behind and call for the president’s impeachment.”
  • This month, Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said that there are “probably” the votes in the House to impeach the president for “absolutely ignoring the Constitution, and ignoring the laws, and ignoring the checks and balances.”
  • Also last year, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan said that impeaching the president would be “a dream come true.”

Rep. Lou Barletta: Sanctuary Cities Making Us 'A Third-World Country'

Republican Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said last week that policies friendly to undocumented immigrants "reward people who want to tear down our laws and make us a third-world country."

Speaking with radio host Lars Larson at the anti-immigrant group FAIR's "Hold Their Feet to The Fire" event, Barletta complained about "sanctuary cities," which he has previously proposed cutting off from federal funding. Barletta is the former mayor of Hazleton, Pa., where he enacted one of the harshest anti-immigrant ordinances in the country, which was struck down by federal courts before it could ever be enforced.

"We continue to send federal dollars to mayors who are above the law," he said. "And then you have a mayor, such as myself in Hazleton, who gets sued for wanting to enforce the laws.

"And there's something wrong with the direction this country's been going when we begin to reward people who want to tear down our laws and make us a third-world country where we get to pick and choose what we want to do.‚Äč"


Larson: If the party picks [Jeb Bush] as the nominee, they're sending a powerful message to Americans that we're going to give away the vote and we're going to give away the whole meaning of what it means to obey the law.

Barletta: Absolutely, and it's what made our country so exceptional is that we were a country that has laws, and you cannot pick and choose what laws you enforce and what laws you can't. But here you have in the case of immigration -- illegal immigration -- you have mayors who declare themselves sanctuary cities, who are not going to enforce immigration laws. Nothing happens to them. We continue to send federal dollars to mayors who are above the law. And then you have a mayor, such as myself in Hazleton, who gets sued for wanting to enforce the laws.

And there's something wrong with the direction this country's been going when we begin to reward people who want to tear down our laws and make us a third-world country where we get to pick and choose what we want to do.

Rep. Lou Barletta Says There's 'Nothing More Dangerous' Than Immigration Reform, Ties It To 9/11

Every year, the anti-immigrant group FAIR holds an event called “Hold Their Feet To The Fire,” which invites radio hosts to broacast from Washington, DC, and interview lawmakers and conservative activists.

This year, Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, one of the staunchest anti-immigrant members of the House, showed up on FAIR’s radio row to call president Obama a dictator, associate undocumented immigrants with the 9/11 terrorists, and declare that “there may not be anything more dangerous” than comprehensive immigration reform.

Barletta told Secure Freedom Radio’s Frank Gaffney that President Obama has put us “on a road to where we’re now electing a dictator.” He took particular exception to the president’s support of immigration reform: “There may not be anything more dangerous than what he’s doing, to give amnesty to millions of people. “

Gaffney: To the extent that the president is, at best, selectively enforcing the law and in some cases rewriting the law or ignoring it altogether, do you agree with those who describe this as a constitutional crisis?

Barletta: Oh, there’s no question about it. This has been a slippery slope that this administration has taken, that the president has taken, walking over the Constitution and taking us down a path that, quite frankly, I don’t know if we’ve ever been this far down a road before, on a road to where we’re now electing a dictator who will try to pick and choose what laws and challenging Congress to try to stop me.

And there may not be anything more dangerous than what he’s doing, to give amnesty to millions of people. We know for a fact that there are people who have come here illegally who want to harm America.

In an interview with Florida radio host Joyce Kaufman, who came under fire for anti-immigrant extremism when she was briefly the chief of staff to Rep. Allen West, Barletta compared the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country to the 9/11 terrorists.

Referring to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s comment that many undocumented immigrants come to the US as an “act of love” for their families, Barletta said, “You know, sometimes we need to remind everyone about September 11. The pilots of those planes, it was an act of love to a different God that took American lives. And not everyone who is here illegally is all here for an act of love for their families.”

Kaufman agreed, adding that the Boston Marathon bombing – perpetrated by legal immigrants – was “another act of love.”
 

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In this report, we look into the ten scariest newly elected members of the House, all sharing rapidly anti-choice and anti-equality views, enthusiastic support from the Religious Right, and reactionary economic ideas.
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