Bob Casey's Hand-Picked Surrogates Push 'Sanctuary' Policies Casey Claims To Oppose

Federal prosecutors singled out Philadelphia’s sanctuary policies as a 'direct threat to public safety'

Sen. Bob Casey (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
June 24, 2024

Three Pennsylvania state representatives on Sen. Bob Casey’s "Latinos for Casey" coalition are pushing a bill to prohibit police and universities in the Keystone State from cooperating with federal immigration agencies—the kind of "sanctuary" policies the Pennsylvania Democrat insists he opposes.

State Reps. Danilo Burgos and Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, who co-chair the Casey coalition, and Rep. Jose Giral, a coalition member, proposed a bill last year that "prohibits" law enforcement agencies and universities from honoring requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hand over illegal aliens or from cooperating in immigration-related investigations. What’s more, the Police and Community Safety Act calls for penalties against noncompliant universities, including the "withholding of state funding."

That proposal could raise questions for Casey, who faces a punishing reelection campaign that could determine which party controls the Senate. Casey called himself an "ally" of the coalition in an announcement of its launch and pledged to "deliver inclusive economic and workforce development, healthcare, and education" for the Latino community.

Federal prosecutors have singled out Philadelphia’s sanctuary policies as a "direct threat to public safety." The most notorious case involves Juan Ramon-Vasquez, a Honduran national who repeatedly raped a young child after Philadelphia police released him from jail in 2014, in defiance of a federal request to hand him over for deportation.

Casey has claimed to oppose the sanctuary policies the coalition leaders are now pushing in the Pennsylvania House. His campaign said earlier this year he "doesn't support sanctuary cities" and believes that "all jurisdictions must cooperate with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and law enforcement at all levels."

Casey’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment about his alliance with pro-sanctuary lawmakers. But he has voted before against legislation that would cut federal spending for cities and counties that refuse to cooperate with immigration agencies. And he voted in 2016 against strengthening criminal penalties against illegal aliens with multiple illegal entries into the United States.

Burgos, the "Latinos for Casey" co-chairman, has pushed other controversial immigration policies as head of the Pennsylvania House Latino Caucus. In November 2021, Burgos led a protest that blocked traffic outside Casey’s Philadelphia office, calling for citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens living in the United States. Organizers ended the protest after Casey agreed to meet with them to discuss the issue.

In December, Burgos celebrated that Pennsylvania companies employ illegal aliens, a violation of federal law, claiming that Pennsylvania does not "have a labor force that wants to be in [labor-intensive] jobs."

"It is the best-kept secret in the Commonwealth that we hire a lot of undocumented people but we don’t want to acknowledge their existence," Burgos said. "And that’s part of why we formed our caucus, to fight for those that cannot defend themselves."