Immigration is, and has always been, foundational to America. My grandfather arrived as a teenager in Philadelphia from Italy. He did not speak English, and he could not read or write. During a life spent working on the railroads in Susquehanna County, he instilled the values of hard work, family, and the American Dream.
We also need immigration for our economy. Immigrants bring immense talents, hard work, and entrepreneurial spirit. We benefit from immigration in so many ways, and I am a fervent supporter of legal immigration.
Any Governor who takes the oath of office is required to enforce the law. That means he must follow Pennsylvania’s Constitution, laws passed by the Legislature, and federal laws.
I strongly oppose sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania, and would take action to eliminate them as Governor for several reasons:
Sanctuary cities are dangerous. The first responsibility of our government is to keep Pennsylvanians safe and secure. We have all heard the tragic stories of criminal illegal immigrants being released and committing additional crimes. These stories alone should give us pause.
Sanctuary cities have elected officials, who take an oath to uphold the law, violating the law. A sworn officer of the law should never intentionally obstruct the law, but that’s what many elected officials are doing today. Would it be appropriate for a local official to ignore federal civil rights legislation? How about voting rights laws? The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld efforts supporting collaboration between local and federal law enforcement, and maintained the federal law preempts local laws when it comes to immigration. Our leaders take an oath to enforce the laws that are on the books—all of them.
Sanctuary cities provide protections to illegal immigrants that wouldn’t be afforded to legal citizens of Pennsylvania. Every Pennsylvanian expects laws to be enforced equitably. When any Pennsylvanian breaks the law, the police checks him for any outstanding warrants. A naturalized immigrant would undergo similar cross-checks. Why should illegal immigrants not be subject to the same scrutiny as everyone else?
Supporters argue we should grant additional protections to those who break our laws out of compassion. But it’s not compassionate to those who play by the rules. And it’s offensive to my grandfather and thousands of other immigrants who came to Pennsylvania legally.
As Governor, I will take aggressive steps the curb the growth of sanctuary cities, townships, and counties in the Commonwealth:
- Lead the Legislature in passing legislation banning the practice of sanctuary cities and withholding funding in block grants to localities that violate state and federal law. We must prioritize state funding to those localities that follow state (and federal) law.
- Based on the current behavior in other sanctuary cities such as Oakland, California, I would hope to charge local officials with obstruction of justice for the most egregious cases
- Finally, I would propose a ban on state resources to defend localities from any lawsuits that might come from the federal Department of Justice. Elected officials have a moral and financial responsibility to their constituents, and I will not allow them to use public funds to violate the law.
The sanctuary city experiment circumvents our laws, compromises our safety, and violates our basic sense of fairness. So many immigrate legally to the United States because they believe in our values. As a former Army officer, I fought for the rule of law and America’s values. Sanctuary cities empower criminals and harm the legal immigrant community. As Governor, I will ensure that our elected officials fulfill their oaths to faithfully execute the law.