April 28, 2017
By Gabriel McMorland
After weeks of pressure from constituents, including two rallies outside his office and phone calls from hundreds of voters in his district, Pennsylvania State Representative Dom Costa issued a public statement opposing SB10, proposed anti-immigrant legislation that would require local law enforcement to assist in the detention and deportation of immigrants. Costa’s statement specifically refers to the current version of the bill and leaves open the possibility that further amendments could change his position. Immigrant rights groups across the state say SB10 is only intended to attack immigrant communities and there could never be a good version of this bill.
In 2016, Representative Costa cosponsored and voted for HB 1885, a similar bill that failed to pass. Immigrant rights groups continue to call on the entire Allegheny County delegation to publicly oppose SB10, HB14, HB 459, and other anti-immigrant legislation in Pennsylvania.
Costa’s constituents are petitioning him to remove his co-sponsorship of HB 459, another anti-immigrant bill targeting workplaces. HB 459 will push more immigrant workers into dangerous working conditions and lead to increased wage theft by employers. The bill threatens employers with fines and loss of their business license if they hire an undocumented worker, which will likely lead to increased workplace discrimination and drive down wages and job safety for all workers in the state.
“We need every legislator from Allegheny County to be very clear about which side they’re on. Do they support the civil rights of all immigrants in PA, or will they choose to exploit racism and xenophobia for cheap political points? These bills don’t help anybody, but they will hurt real people in our communities.” said Hannah Gerbe, a Costa constituent.
“Neighbors worked together to demand that Dom Costa serve the real values of our community. We helped educate him on the issues and showed him that constituents expect him to do the right thing. I expect we’ll see similar actions in the districts of other reps with anti-immigrant records, such as Joe Markosek, Tony Deluca, Harry Readshaw, and Bill Kortz,” Gerbe added.
“Costa only said he’s opposed to the current version of SB10 and further amendments might change his position, but there is no good version of this bill. It helps nobody, and its only goal is to score points with people supporting a radical anti-immigrant agenda.”
On April 13th, a delegation of constituents and immigrant rights activists visited Representative Tony DeLuca’s Penn Hills office to ask him to publicly oppose anti-immigrant legislation in Pennsylvania, including HB 459, which he co-sponsors with Rep Dom Costa. DeLuca came outside to speak to the delegation, where he agreed to oppose SB10 but would not agree to revoke his sponsorship of HB 459. DeLuca claims he sponsored HB 459 to protect workers from exploitation, but immigrant rights groups say it will harm both immigrant workers and US-born workers.
In a 2006 open letter titled, “DeLuca denounces Fox Chapel Golf Club hiring of immigrants,” DeLuca referred to the hiring of temporary foreign workers through the H-1 visa program as “robbing our college students and residents of jobs.”
“I live in Penn Hills, and Mr. Deluca’s office has helped my family in the past. I came today because I want Mr. Deluca to stand up for what’s right by voting against the anti-immigrant legislation currently under consideration in Harrisburg, including SB10, HB14, and HB 459, which Mr. Deluca is instead co-sponsoring. These bills scapegoat immigrants. They will not solve the problems of Pennsylvania—they will only increase racial profiling and deportations, separating families in our community as well as across the state.
“Please, Mr. Deluca, it’s time to stand up against hate and especially to drop your sponsorship of HB 459, a bill that will only encourage discrimination by, employers and which does not help workers in any substantive way,” said Liz Sutor, a DeLuca constituent.
Pastor Ken Love, constituent, said “Representative DeLuca claims he wants HB 459 to protect immigrant workers from exploitation, but this bill will hurt all workers and help nobody. If he wants to help out workers, he could focus on wage theft, workplace safety, and raising the minimum wage. I hope he will withdraw this dangerous bill and work with leaders from the immigrant community to draft legislation that actually helps workers in Pennsylvania.”
Call your Representatives to tell them to vote against anti-immigrant legislation and urge them to make a public statement condemning such legislation.
Call Your Representatives TODAY!
Rep Dom Costa…….. (412) 361-2040
Rep Tony DeLuca….. (412) 793-2448
Rep Joe Markosek…. (412) 856-8284
Rep Harry Readshaw…. (412) 881-4208
Rep Bill Kortz………. (412) 886-2870
Gabriel McMorland is the organizer and internship coordinator for the Thomas Merton Center.