Costa Says Co-Sponsorship Of Anti-Sanctuary Campus Bill Was Accidental

Jan 31, 2017

Dom Costa said he was mistakenly added as a co-sponsor of HB 14, which would cut off state funding to "sanctuary campuses" in Pennsylvania.
Credit PA General Assembly

Local activists are putting pressure on Representative Dom Costa (D-Allegheny) to remove his name as co-sponsor of a bill that would cut off state funding from “sanctuary campuses” in Pennsylvania.

Costa was listed as the sole Democratic co-sponsor, which Anita Boehm, executive director of his Harrisburg office, said was a mistake.

Boehm explained that Costa was listed as a co-sponsor due to a “computer error” and has since been taken off. She said he does not support HB 14.

House Democratic caucus press secretary Bill Patton said such mistakes don’t happen often, but they do happen.

“The house enabled an online co-sponsorship system in which members circulate memos by email, and there’s a button at the bottom of the email which the recipient member can click to indicate they would like to co-sponsor the bill,” he said. “If a member inadvertently clicks that button instead of deleting the email, they could added to the system as a co-sponsor.”

But local activists aren’t buying that explanation, said Christina Castillo of the Thomas Merton Center.

“It seems very simple to shift the blame over to something that’s technological as opposed to taking ownership on the decision that he had made,” Castillo said.

They are calling on Costa to publicly announce that he is voting no on the measure. They also want him to announce the same for SB 10, which would prevent Pennsylvania municipalities from designating themselves as “sanctuary cities.”

“This bill is designed to prevent municipalities and counties from designating themselves as 'sanctuary cities' in order to thwart federal efforts to combat illegal immigration,” wrote primary sponsor Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) in a memo regarding the bill.

SB 10, dubbed the Municipal Sanctuary and Federal Enforcement or SAFE Act, is similar to HB 1885, which Costa also co-sponsored. That bill passed the Senate but failed in the House last session.

Costa was also a prime sponsor of HB 1894 in 2015, which would have required private employers to verify the citizenship status of new hires.

Activists are also calling on Costa to oppose any future legislation that “attacks immigrant communities,” said Castillo.

“The anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric have been a problem under a Democratic administration for far too long now, and our Democratic representatives need to take a stand on where their values truly lie,” Castillo said.