Three days after one of the longest-serving House Republicans called Latinos “wetbacks,” a GOP Congressman told the New York Times that immigrants are sinking America and compared the undocumented population to water on a sinking ship.
Speaking to reporter Trip Gabriel, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) criticized lawmakers for heading “down the path of proposing some form of amnesty” and used the analogy of a sinking ship to argue that Washington should wait to reform the immigration system until the border is completely secure:
“Why are we even talking about a pathway to citizenship when our borders aren’t even close to being secure?” said Mr. Barletta, vowing to fight a plan that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to compete legally for jobs.
“Let’s not take on any more water on this sinking ship,” he said. “Let’s patch the holes. Then we’ll decide what do we do with all this water that’s here.”
In fact, the U.S. border is more secure than ever before, with border crossings falling to their lowest level since the Nixon administration. Border agents patrol every single mile of the border every day and the vast majority of the border already meets one of Homeland Security’s highest standards of security. Meanwhile, economists estimate that a path to citizenship could add up to $1.4 trillion to economic growth, result in a $791 billion increase to Americans’ personal incomes, and create 203,000 jobs each year over the next decade.
Barletta’s comments come as lawmakers in the House and Senate prepare to unveil their immigration reform proposals, and Republicans try to soften their rhetoric in an effort to appeal to the growing Hispanic population. The congressman, however, has a long record of anti-immigrant positions. In January, Barletta suggested that Hispanics would never vote for Republicans who don’t provide them with government hand outs and as mayor, passed measures to penalize businesses that knowingly hire, and landlords who knowingly rent to the undocumented population.