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Pennsylvania County Rescinds “Sanctuary” Designation After Flood Of Drug Crime, Overdoses

A western Pennsylvania county has ditched its “sanctuary” status for illegal immigration after being walloped by drugs flowing from Mexico.
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A western Pennsylvania county has ditched its “sanctuary” status for illegal immigration after being walloped by drugs flowing from Mexico.

Officials in Butler County, just north of Pittsburgh, reversed course this week, following a unanimous vote by its prison board.

The decision was apparently made after Republican Rep. Stephenie Scialabba was alerted about the county’s status by a constituent and pushed for scrapping the sanctuary label, according to local media.

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Butler County was identified as one of more than a dozen sanctuary counties in Pennsylvania by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that supports tougher enforcement of America’s immigration laws. 

For years, sanctuary cities and counties, usually run by Democrats, have said they would welcome illegal immigrants and not report them to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, even if they commit a crime.

But, as local media reported, Butler County Prison will now accept ICE detainers that include a warrant. Additionally, the prison will submit a list of illegal-immigrant inmates to ICE every week. ICE also will be allowed to access the prison and its inmates as appropriate.

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On Friday, Fox News reported that 57 of 66 overdose deaths reported by Butler County have been attributable to fentanyl.

“Our crime is not just DUIs and retail theft anymore. We have drugs,” county District Attorney Richard Goldinger told the media this week. “Again, that stuff has not come from citizens that are making fentanyl in Butler County. It’s being brought here.”

Scialabba told Fox News that in addition to the fentanyl overdoses, local law enforcement officials were seeing more cases of drug and human trafficking. 

“You would never think of Butler County or Pennsylvania as a border state, but unfortunately it seems like borders don’t matter anymore,” Scialabba told Fox News.

Scialabba added that Butler County and others in Pennsylvania became “gun shy” about holding illegals and working with ICE after a federal appellate court ruled in 2014 that it was unconstitutional to hold illegal immigrants without a warrant — even though crossing into the country illegally is a crime in and of itself.

The sanctuary designation, she added, “did not reflect our intentions or practices.”

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In a different interview, Scialabba asserted that Butler County is really “a county of security and law and order.”

“They come here, they think this is a safe place to commit crimes. And it is not,” Scialabba insisted.

“It’s a safe place to live here and work here and we welcome you. We want immigrants here, that’s what our country’s about. But you have to come here legally, you can’t come here and think we won’t cooperate with ICE.”

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