White: There are people who are not, number one, upholding immigration law in our city. That puts all our people in danger, whether you are legally here –
Erika Almiron, executive director of Vamos: That is racist rhetoric
White: – or not.
Almiron: Just so you know, that is racist rhetoric.
White: How so?
Almiron: To say that somebody is here undocumented and somehow that makes them criminal is racist rhetoric.
White: It’s a federal law
Almiron: It’s a federal law the state has nothing to do with.
White: So you’re saying that the federal law is racist. You’re saying the federal immigration law is racist
Almiron: Yes, it is racist.
White: I’m gonna need to ask all of you to leave my office.
Philadelphia Republican state Rep. Martina White continues to do battle with activists angered by her legislation to terminate Philadelphia’s sanctuary city status.
The conflict got heated this week when activists went to White’s office to meet, culminating in her shouting at them to leave after one criticized her for using the words “these people” to refer to immigrants, all caught on cellphone camera video.
“As I have said on numerous occasions, including during the ambush meeting with activists for illegal immigration, I fully support legal immigration and the diversity it brings to our country, as well as immigrants who have followed the law to get here,” White said in a statement on the confrontation.
“My legislation focuses on only one issue: upholding federal law as it applies to illegal immigrants — from any country — who break the laws of the United States. Certain activists wanting to push their own agenda have tried to twist this simple fact to suit their own purposes,” she continued.
Al Dia, Philly’s bilingual Latino newspaper, first posted video and audio from the encounter between White and members of various organizations including Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), and Make the Road PA.
The audio recording starts with White telling the activists, “I think it’s very rude to barge into someone’s office without an appointment,” but welcoming them inside anyway.
One member of the group tells White, “I think your bill on sanctuary cities divides, is hateful. I think it does not serve any real purpose other than to hurt people.”
Another brings up “the rhetoric and ideas” of the bill and asks White if she wants to be “Trump in Pennsylvania.”
“I don’t feel that I need to respond to that,” White says in the audio recording. “Number one, I want you to know that my bill has no rhetoric in it. It is specifically to uphold federal law.”