GOP candidate for Pennsylvania governor serves on hate group advisory board

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Former Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta serves on an advisory board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Lou Barletta, a former congressman from Pennsylvania who is running for the Republican nomination for governor of the state, is on the advisory board of an anti-immigrant hate group whose founder has ties to the white supremacist eugenics movement, a fact pointed out by Media Matters for America on May 18.

Barletta announced his run the day before Media Matters' story was published. Current Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is not running for reelection due to term limits.

Barletta is one of four announced Republican candidates. He represented Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District from 2011 to 2019, after serving for a decade as mayor of the city of Hazleton.

In 2018, despite an endorsement from Donald Trump, Barletta lost a Senate challenge to Democrat incumbent Bob Casey Jr. by 13 points.

In a video announcing his candidacy, Barletta criticized Wolf's policies to stop the spread of COVID-19. He also spoke about immigration.

"We need to take back our streets from the extremists who want to abolish our police and turn our neighborhoods into sanctuaries for illegal immigrants," Barletta said.

Barletta is listed as serving on the "National Board of Advisors" of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group.

In 2017, when a petition launched on the website Change.org called on Barletta to cut ties with FAIR, he rejected the call and 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."

FAIR is one of the most prominent groups working to limit immigration to the United States.

John Tanton, who founded the organization and is a board member, has expressed white nationalist ideas and has ties to eugenicists.

In 1986, Tanton wrote, "As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?" In 1993, he said, "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."

For years, FAIR received donations from the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group advocating eugenics, a pseudoscience that promotes selective breeding for so-called superior traits supposedly associated with race and ethnicity. Correspondence between Tanton and other nativists shows him expressing interest in the discredited racist "science."

Tanton complains in his letters that "less intelligent" people are allowed to procreate and that "modern medicine and social programs are eroding the human gene pool."

Tanton also ran a publishing company called the Social Contract Press, which republished the anti-immigrant novel "The Camp of the Saints," which was later touted by Trump adviser Steve Bannon and is reportedly a favorite of another racist Trump official, Stephen Miller.

The racist 1973 French novel refers to "swarthy hordes" of Indian immigrants overrunning France and describes immigrants as "monsters."

Most recently, FAIR has attacked the immigration policies of the Biden administration and framed the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as a "crisis." The language was quickly picked up by Republicans in Congress.

In turn, FAIR has used its social media presence to amplify Republican attacks on Biden over the issue of immigration.

As mayor of Hazleton, Barletta enacted anti-immigrant ordinances as the Latino population increased, barring undocumented people from working or renting homes in the city.

The ordinances were struck down by a federal judge, a ruling that was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The legal costs incurred by Hazleton in defending Barletta's ordinances contributed to the state declaring the city "financially distressed" in 2017, ProPublica reported.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.