A long-time immigration critic and current candidate for U.S. senator, Rep. Lou Barletta, claimed in a fundraising email that the sitting Democratic U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, wants to “eliminate our borders.”
“Liberal California billionaire Tom Steyer is spending millions of dollars to back Bob Casey and influence Pennsylvania’s election. This is no surprise, given that Casey and Steyer are allies in the fight to eliminate our borders and weaken immigration laws meant to protect American families and workers,” the email read.
Steyer is a billionaire hedge fund manager who has spent tens of millions on a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump. Barletta, a Republican, represents Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District.
Barletta rose to prominence as mayor of Hazleton, where, in 2006, he ushered in a controversial and widely scrutinized ordinance aimed at keeping undocumented immigrants out.
Barletta also championed Trump’s hard-nosed approach to immigration law enforcement during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump returned the favor, endorsing Barletta in his U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year. Barletta only faces one Republican opponent in the May primary and is looking to challenge Casey on the ballot in November.
But is what he says about Casey, a moderate Democrat, wanting to eliminate borders true?
Here’s what we found.
A closer look at Sen. Casey’s immigration record
Asked about the claim in Barletta’s April 19 fundraising email that Casey wants to “eliminate our borders,” Max Steele, a spokesperson for Casey’s re-election campaign, called it absurd.
Steele added via email, “Unfortunately for Congressman Barletta, Pennsylvanians will see these absurd claims for what they are: The desperate actions of a desperate candidate.”
David Jackson, a spokesman for Barletta’s Senate campaign, sent a long email detailing Casey’s positions on various aspects of U.S. immigration policy and arguing that while Casey claims he supports border security, “his record of voting to weaken our immigration laws and reject measures to increase border security.”
So what does that voting record look like?
At a glance, Casey has voted against penalties for sanctuary cities like Philadelphia.
Casey voted against funding for Trump’s border wall, calling it a misuse of vital resources. Casey also voted against a measure that would have increased vetting standards for incoming refugees, calling the existing standards “rigorous.”
He’s suggested an increased reliance on drone technology to help secure the border.
Casey’s re-election campaign has also pointed to his support for the so-called Gang of Eight bill in 2013, a bipartisan effort in the Senate that aimed to strengthen border security by increasing the number of border patrol agents, building 700 miles of fencing along the border and substantially increasing funding for border security while also finding “a fair solution for undocumented immigrants.” The plan passed the Senate but was never introduced in the House and later expired. Casey’s opponents would point to the same bill as evidence that he wants to weaken immigration laws by allowing some undocumented immigrants a path to legal status and possibly citizenship.
Even if you perceive Casey’s stance on the subject of immigration as overly tolerant, we found zero evidence that he ever proposed or supported the idea of eliminating our borders.
While Barletta claims that Casey wants to eliminate the border, there is nothing in his record to support that — and nothing to directly support the claim was provided by Barletta’s Senate campaign in a written response to PolitiFact Pennsylvania.
In the current climate around immigration law in the U.S., a statement like that needs context, which the fundraising email lacks.
Although Casey wants to make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S., he says he has voted to strengthen border security and never advocated for eliminating the border entirely.
We rate Barletta’s claim False.