Lou Barletta

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta

An online petition is demanding that U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta publicly disassociate himself from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, where he serves on the board of advisers.

The petition, put together on Change.org, said FAIR has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and so “our representative should not be associating with extremists.” The website listed 555 signatures as of Wednesday night with a goal of 1,000.

Barletta, R-11, of Hazleton, and a representative from FAIR on Wednesday disagreed with labeling the group extremist.

The congressman said: “I am proud to be on the advisory board for an organization that seeks to fix our nation’s broken immigration system to help improve our nation’s security, economy, workforce, health care and environment.”

As mayor of Hazleton, Barletta said he took a stand against illegal immigration when the federal government refused to enforce immigration laws and secure U.S. borders. “As a member of Congress, I have continued to fight for the rule of law and stand up for the American people,” he said. “I have never backed away from the fight against illegal immigration, and I never will.”

Barletta said groups “fueled by hatred or a false and repugnant sense of racial supremacy have no place in American society, and I strongly condemn them. FAIR, which is a nonpartisan organization with over 1.3 million diverse members, also condemns any individual or group that engages in hateful or violent behavior.”

Bloomsburg activist Dwayne Heisler, a Democrat, is helping to distribute the petition.

He said, “People should be aware of what their congressman is doing. I am helping (with) this so that other people in the 11th Congressional District know that Lou Barletta is supportive of a hate group. Considering Barletta’s long history regarding immigration, I guess it really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.” 

The Southern Poverty Law Center website quotes FAIR founder John Tanton as saying, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” FAIR was founded in 1979.

Ira Mehlman, FAIR media director, said: “This is an effort on the part of a lobby group to discredit anyone who opposes their positions. This has become a trend in politics. I’m righteous, you’re evil.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, Mehlman said, “is unsavory. They’re a political organization with no oversight. Who appointed them as guardian of our national discourse?” 

Email comments to rdandes@dailyitem.com. Follow Dandes on Twitter @rdandes.

Northumberland County Reporter