Toomey launches new im­mi­gra­tion pol­i­tics at­tack on McGinty

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Marc Levy

Repub­li­can U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey has launched a new line of at­tack in im­mi­gra­tion pol­i­tics against his Demo­cratic chal­lenger Katie McGinty, ac­cus­ing her of sup­port­ing wel­fare for im­mi­grants liv­ing il­le­gally in the United States.

Two new cam­paign TV ads this month play off McGinty’s sup­port for a fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion bill that Toomey op­posed but that passed in the Se­nate with the help of 14 of his fel­low Repub­li­cans. The bill, sup­ported by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, would have cre­ated a path to ci­ti­zen­ship for an es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion im­mi­grants in the coun­try with­out le­gal doc­u­men­ta­tion. But it died in the House, help­ing en­sure that im­mi­gra­tion pol­i­tics would play a role in this year’s na­tional elec­tions.

One Toomey ad says McGinty’s lib­eral agenda in­cludes “ci­ti­zen­ship for il­le­gal im­mi­grants, mak­ing them el­i­gi­ble for wel­fare.” An­other says McGinty is a cham­pion for “wel­fare for il­le­gals.” The “wel­fare for il­le­gals” slo­gan is also play­ing in an on­line ad placed by the Toomey cam­paign.

The fed­eral leg­is­la­tion did not make im­mi­grants im­me­di­ately el­i­gi­ble for gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits pro­grams, such as cash as­sis­tance or food stamps. For some pro­grams, it would take im­mi­grants more than a decade to be­come el­i­gi­ble.

How­ever, a Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice anal­y­sis pro­jected an im­me­di­ate in­crease in spend­ing on health care pro­grams and tax cred­its for low­er­in­come work­ing house­holds — about $240 bil­lion over a decade — that are avail­able to im­mi­grants who have le­gal work sta­tus.

The McGinty cam­paign likened Toomey’s at­tack to GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump’s pro­nounce­ments on im­mi­gra­tion.

“Pat Toomey and Don­ald Trump are kin­dred spir­its when it comes to fear mon­ger­ing, divi­sion and out­right ly­ing to vot­ers,” the McGinty cam­paign said.

The cam­paign also noted that the fed­eral leg­is­la­tion would have dou­bled fund­ing for the border pa­trol.

The bill also had sup­port from Penn­syl­va­nia’s Demo­cratic Sen. Bob Casey, as well as sev­eral Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who are in tough re-elec­tion bat­tles this year, in­clud­ing New Hamp­shire’s Kelly Ay­otte, Ari­zona’s John McCain, Illi­nois’ Mark Kirk and Florida’s Marco Ru­bio.

McCain will be in Delaware County on Fri­day to cam­paign for Toomey. An­other Repub­li­can sen­a­tor who voted for it, Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, head­lined Jan­uary’s Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can Party win­ter meet­ing at Toomey’s in­vi­ta­tion.

When Toomey voted against the 2013 bill, he did not cite wel­fare in his state­ments to re­porters. Rather, he ar­gued that it lacked ad­e­quate le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and guest-worker pro­vi­sions for low-skilled work­ers.

“In­stead of tak­ing a page straight from Don­ald Trump’s play­book, Pat Toomey should come clean to his con­stituents how he could op­pose bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion that would have en­hanced our na­tional se­cu­rity,” the McGinty cam­paign said.

The TV ads are the lat­est way Toomey has brought im­mi­gra­tion pol­i­tics into the race. For much of the cam­paign, he has crit­i­cized McGinty’s tacit sup­port for Philadelphia’s “sanc­tu­ary city” pol­icy, un­der which po­lice do not au­to­mat­i­cally de­tain for fed­eral au­thor­i­ties those im­mi­grants who don’t have le­gal doc­u­men­ta­tion.

“Katie McGinty’s po­si­tions would al­low crim­i­nal il­le­gal im­mi­grants off the hook in sanc­tu­ary cities, and would grant ci­ti­zen­ship to other il­le­gal im­mi­grants, mak­ing them el­i­gi­ble for wel­fare of nu­mer­ous types,” the Toomey cam­paign said. “Those po­si­tions are ter­ri­ble for pub­lic safety and for tax­pay­ers.”

Toomey’s use of the word “wel­fare” is de­bat­able.

The non­par­ti­san Tax Foun­da­tion in Washington said the tra­di­tional un­der­stand­ing of wel­fare is a gov­ern­ment pro­gram for the poor or un­em­ployed that helps pay for their food, hous­ing or med­i­cal costs.”

C. Eu­gene Steuerle of the non­par­ti­san Tax Pol­icy Cen­ter, also in Washington, said in its strictest def­i­ni­tion, wel­fare is the Tem­po­rary As­sis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies pro­gram, which pro­vides cash to poor fam­i­lies with chil­dren. But there is a much larger, vaguely de­fined so­cial wel­fare bud­get that could in­clude So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care, Steuerle said.

“You re­ally have this gi­gan­tic hodge-podge of pro­grams, all sort of adopted one at a time, not of­ten well-co­or­di­nated,” Steuerle said. “So one’s views on this tend to vary greatly.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is run­ning for re-elec­tion against Demo­crat Katie McGinty.

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