Doug Mastriano wants to use Pa. state police to bus migrants to Delaware. Here’s why that breaks both federal and state law

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano speaks during a campaign stop in Erie, Pa., Thursday, September 29, 2022. (David Dermer/Associated Press)

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano speaks during a campaign stop in Erie, Pa., Thursday, September 29, 2022. (David Dermer/Associated Press)

This story originally appeared on WITF.

If elected governor this November, Republican state senator Doug Mastriano said he’d transport undocumented immigrants in the commonwealth across state lines.

He explained his proposal during a town hall in York, which aired on FOX News Wednesday, hosted by Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich.

During his closing statements, Mastriano told Hannity he’d send undocumented immigrants sent to Pennsylvania by the federal government to President Joe Biden’s home state.

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“When those ghost flights show up,” he said referring to a debunked claim that undocumented immigrants are being covertly flown into Pa., “our beautiful Pennsylvania State Police will escort those bus loads of illegals down to Delaware. Joe Biden can have ‘em.”

This policy would violate a federal statute, which criminalizes transporting undocumented migrants “within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise.”

This would also be outside of the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), according to their policy on enforcing civil immigration law. It’s designed to encourage cooperation in criminal investigations between state police and Pa.’s migrant communities.

“All persons, regardless of their immigration status, must feel secure that contacting or being addressed by PSP personnel, ordinarily, will not lead to an immigration inquiry,” the policy reads. “And to ensure that members are aware of the limitations imposed by law with respect to civil immigration enforcement.”

Mastriano’s proposal mimics decisions made by multiple Republican governors to transport migrants to Democratic-led sanctuary cities, in protest of the Biden administration’s handling of the southern border.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have transported thousands of migrants across state lines in recent months. DeSantis’ decision to fly about 50 migrants from Texas, to Florida, and then Martha’s Vineyard drew immense scrutiny from advocacy groups, including the Central American Resource Center and anti-trafficking charity Polaris.

Mastriano’s illegal plan to transport migrants in Pa. across state lines was condemned by immigration advocacy group CASA in Action Pennsylvania.

In a statement to WITF News, State Director Daniel Alvalle said Mastriano is embracing a “fringe sentiment” out of step with the Pa. electorate.

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“Doug Mastriano seems to think the fraud and cruelty of family separation is a winning campaign strategy. Immigrant families are contributors to the commonwealth, many working essential jobs the economy relies on, or going to school and pursuing higher education,” Alvalle wrote. “If Doug Mastriano believes that hate and racism will motivate voters, he has a view of Pennsylvania that few of us share.”

Illegal border crossings reached an all-time high this year, with federal authorities making over 2 million arrests for the first time. Some critics cite Biden’s reversal of Trump-era border policies as the main reason for the influx of undocumented migrants. Federal officials attributed it to “failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.”

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