Rep. Barletta Wants Local Rights For His Town But Fights Against Them Elsewhere

June 06, 2011 4:13 pm ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Last week, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) introduced a bill entitled the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities (MASC) Act. The purpose of the MASC Act is to keep federal funds from so-called "sanctuary cities," or cities that fail to comply with elements of current federal immigration law. The bill is an attempt to force localities to adhere to federal law or face a financial penalty. However, Barletta's new bill is contradictory to his own actions while mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

When Hazleton was sued on the basis that a local immigration law they enacted violated the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, Barletta defended his city's right to create such laws. After the Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Hazleton's law as unconstitutional, Barletta vowed that Hazleton would not give up its fight "because other communities are counting on us." Even in his campaign for the House of Representatives, Barletta touted his commitment to states' rights, complaining, "We're sending more and more power to Washington and not to the state and local level." Now in Washington, Barletta has made a full turnaround on the federal power he fought against in Hazleton.

In a speech discussing the introduction of the MASC Act, Barletta noted that Hazleton was still fighting legal battles "to enact our law and protect our legal, taxpaying residents and Hazleton's small budget." Yet a few lines later Barletta showed his hypocritical stance on local rights when he explained that his bill "will crack down on cities whose elected officials have willfully chosen to not enforce immigration policy." Ultimately, Barletta is willing to fight for local government's ability to create immigration laws he agrees with while attempting to enforce federal law for those he disagrees with.

UPDATE: Earlier today, the Supreme Court sent the Hazleton lawsuit back to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for reevaulation given the recent Supreme Court decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.