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Heffley, Toohil Call for Stricter Immigration and Welfare Fraud Enforcement

At a press conference on Monday, May 9, Reps. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) expressed their shock and disappointment at how a traffic stop involving an illegal immigrant was handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. 

An illegal immigrant was pulled over for speeding in Beaver Meadows and was discovered to be driving without a license with only a Mexican identification card.  He was detained for four hours and released.  Instead of being held for further immigration proceedings by ICE officials, he was driven to the Luzerne County line.  

“This is a blatant example of the federal government failing to follow through on local enforcement of national immigration laws,” said Heffley.  “This has been going on for far too long and needs to end.  Here we have an example of local law enforcement doing its job, detaining a possible illegal immigrant, but ICE officials, instead of detaining the suspected illegal immigrant, drive him to the county border and release him?  Toward what end?” 

“In addition to being here illegally, this individual had two ACCESS cards which is a clear indication of welfare fraud,” said Toohil.  “Every law-abiding citizen in this country should be personally offended by this situation.  The local law enforcement officer did his job but ICE refused to detain the man.  What good are the immigration laws we have if federal agencies refuse to enforce them?” 

ACCESS cards are used either to obtain medical assistance, or, if the cardholder also receives cash assistance or Food Stamps, an ACCESS EBT (electronic benefit transfer) can be used to obtain all three forms of welfare. 

“We are calling on the federal government to do its job and enforce federal immigration laws in Pennsylvania,” the legislators said.  “We are in the midst of tough financial times, yet an illegal immigrant who quite possibly was illegally receiving welfare payments was let go with only a cursory investigation.  It’s high time we put a stop to this. This is why we have signed on to the National Security Begins at Home package of immigration reform bills and support welfare reform.” 

The legislators are calling on Congress, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Obama administration to take immediate action to detain, investigate, and when appropriate, initiate deportation proceedings when any illegal immigrant is discovered during any traffic stop, immigration enforcement procedure or criminal investigation.

State Representative Doyle Heffley
122nd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Todd Abele
State Representative Tarah Toohil
116th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Rep. Toohil’s Office 

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