WILKES-BARRE — In a recent interview with Breitbart News, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said he remains optimistic about Congress’s chance to pass pro-American immigration reform.
“Well you know, for me this is one of the reasons that I am here in Washington right now,” Barletta told Breitbart News. “I have been fighting this issue back when I was a mayor in 2006, and here we are in 2018 still talking about it. I am excited because we finally have an opportunity to end the problem of illegal immigration. Hopefully, politics will not once again get in the way.”
Barletta, R-Hazleton, announced in August that he is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, in the 2018 midterm election. Barletta, a staunch opponent of illegal immigration since his time as mayor of Hazleton, told Breitbart News that he wants to put “America first” and “Pennsylvania workers first.”
According to the interview with Breitbart News, at a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers at the White House this week, President Donald Trump backed immigration legislation written by Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Raul Labrador (R-Ind.), and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). Trump called the legislation, a “bill of love.”
Barletta told Breitbart News that there’s a lot to like in the Goodlatte bill, adding that lawmakers need to ensure that it finally resolves the problem of illegal immigration.
“I like the bill a lot; there’s something here for everyone,” Barletta said in an emailed news release. “Most importantly, there’s something here for the American people, and that’s to finally end this problem of illegal immigration. The Democrats need to be on board if they’re serious about DACA, but at the same time, it’s reasonable to make sure the American people will not have to deal with this problem again.”
Barletta went on to say that the president was pretty clear that “we need the wall first” and that we need to secure our borders.
“To put it in terms that people will understand, if you have a hole in your roof, you wouldn’t replace your carpet,” Barletta said. “Before we begin to talk about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and what we are going to do and people discussing something as far away as a pathway to citizenship to make the problem worse, which will only open up the floodgates for people to come here illegally, we need to secure the border and stop the flow of illegal immigration into the country.”
Barletta said the second thing is that DACA can’t happen without ending “chain migration.”
Barlettta said, “To put it in realistic terms, immigrants can bring their kids here, we allow them to stay, and then they can bring their cousins. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s very clear that we can end this problem, secure the border, build the wall, in exchange for DACA, we should end chain migration, the diversity lottery, and bring about E-Verify, so that we are protecting American workers, and then end this problem.”
Barletta said that nearly 50 percent of the people that come here illegally come through a visa, the visa expires, and then they just disappear. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Barletta said that is the preferred method of entry for terrorists, many of the 9/11 terrorists used that way to enter the country.
“I am interested in solving this problem once and for all and politicians in Washington need to stop playing politics,” Barletta said.
Wolf declares first-ever
public health disaster
Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday issued the first-ever public health disaster declaration that he said will enhance the state response to the opioid epidemic.
Wolf’s declaration is designed to increase access to treatment and save lives.
The declaration is the first-of-its-kind for a public health emergency in Pennsylvania and will utilize a command center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to track progress and enhance coordination.
“While we have made progress in combating the heroin and opioid abuse crisis and drastically expanded Pennsylvania’s response, we are still losing far too many Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in a news release. “I am taking this step to protect Pennsylvanians from this looming public health crisis, and I am using every tool at my disposal to get those suffering from substance use disorders into treatment, save more lives, and improve response coordination.”
Among the declaration’s specifics are 13 key initiatives that are the culmination of a collaboration between state agencies.
• Establishing an Opioid Command Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which will house the Unified Opioid Coordination Group that will meet weekly to monitor implementation and progress of the initiatives in the declaration.
• Expanding access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to other state entities for clinical decision-making purposes to improve treatment outcomes and better monitor compliance among prescribers. Since 2016, 90,000 physicians have conducted more than 1 million searches on the PDMP.
• Adding overdoses and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) as reportable conditions to the Department of Health to increase data collection and improve outcomes in both areas.
• Authorizing an emergency purchase to allow the state to enter into a contract with the current drug and alcohol hotline vendor to ensure uninterrupted services. To date, the 24/7 helpline — 1-800-662-HELP — has received more than 18,000 calls to connect those suffering with substance abuse with treatment.
• Enabling emergency medical providers to leave behind naloxone by amending the current standing order to include dispensing by first responders, including EMTs.
The existing naloxone standing order and funding for naloxone to first responders has allowed for more than 5,000 lives to be saved, the release says.
• Allowing pharmacists to partner with other organizations to increase access to naloxone by waiving regulations.
• Waiving the face-to-face physician requirement for Narcotic Treatment Program admissions to allow initial intake review by a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or Physician Assistant (PA) to expedite initial intakes and streamline coordination of care when an individual is most in need of immediate attention.
• Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment by waiving regulatory provisions. This will allow more people to receive necessary treatments at the same location, increasing their access to care and chances for recovery.
• Waiving annual licensing requirements for high-performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities to allow for a licensure process every two years.
Casey campaign raises $2.6M
to add to $8.6M cash on hand
The Bob Casey For Senate campaign this week announced it raised more than $2.6 million between October and December 2017 with more than $8.6 million cash on hand.
In an emailed news release, the campaign said Casey, D-Scranton, now has more cash on hand heading into 2018 than he had at this point in his 2006 and 2012 campaigns combined.
This caps off a record-breaking fundraising year for Casey, who raised $10.2 million in 2017 from more than 67,000 donors from every county in the Commonwealth — 90 percent of 2017 contributions were from grassroots donors who gave $100 or less, the release stated.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.