U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, said he is heading for the Mexican border “to see with my own eyes what’s going,” according to a media release.
Barletta will attend a field hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee regarding unaccompanied children illegally entering the country.
Barletta cited growing reports of of children from various countries fleeing north for America’s borders. While the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has cited violence in the home countries of the children for the apparent surge, Barletta laid the blame squarely at Obama’s feet.
“This is what happens when you tell the whole world that you’re rolling out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants,” Barletta said in the release. “I blame the administration and anyone in Congress who openly talked about a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which in reality means amnesty for anyone who has broken our immigration laws.”
Barletta rose to prominence when, as Hazleton mayor, he successfully pushed for a city ordinance intended to keep illegal immigrants from settling in the city. Two companion ordinances related to renting to or hiring illegal immigrants were passed but never enforced. A federal court struck down the ordinances, a ruling that was upheld by an appellate court. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Obama’s critics have increasingly cited his 2012 decision to allow certain illegal immigrant minors already in the country to remain with legal status as the cause of a surge in children being sent to the country from Mexico and points south.
But the administration counters that no amnesty has ever been offered to children entering the country, and that they are being turned back.
In his release, Barletta takes his criticism of the administration a step farther.
“The United States government has become complicit in what amounts to human trafficking,” Barletta said. “The drug cartels are charging thousands of dollars per child to transport them more than 1,000 miles to the U.S. border. At that point, American government officials take over and deliver the children to family members elsewhere in the country. That makes our government a participant in the human trafficking transaction, which could include physical and sexual abuse along the way. This is unconscionable.”
Barletta also cited “health concerns” from children entering the U.S. illegal while potentially carrying contagious diseases such as measles and Swine Flu.
The committee hearing is set for July 3 in McAllen, Texas at 1 p.m. A live video feed will be available at homeland.house.gov/live-video-feed