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Pennsylvania Republicans seek to levy illegal immigrants' remittances to fund property tax relief

A group of us-regions Republican lawmakers put forward a bill that would place a levy on international remittances made by illegal immigrants and divert the revenue to the commonwealth’s property tax and rent relief fund.

The legislation, in the form of an amendment to the Money Transmission Business Licensing Law of 1965, was sponsored by 2022 gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a state senator from Gettysburg. He had been joined by at least three other senators as of Friday afternoon.

Mastriano told Fox News on Friday that with the impending repeal of Title 42 protections that allowed the U.S. to return illegal immigrants to Mexico due to COVID-19 concerns, another migrant surge is likely to occur.

“It’s safe to assume many will make their way north to states like Pennsylvania. Once settled in a new state, illegal immigrants primarily use a money transfer agent such as Western Union to send earnings back to their home nations,” the senator said.  

“[This] is a unique bill that will place a fee on those types of transactions. It’s a great way to deter illegal immigration — and we can put that new revenue towards tax breaks for legal citizens in our us-regions,” he told Fox News.

The lawmaker said international cash remittances take money out of the state economy and instead benefit foreign countries.

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State Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks at a protest against the extended stay-at-home order. 

State Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks at a protest against the extended stay-at-home order. 
(REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski)

“Over $70 billion is transferred out of the U.S. and into the economies of recipient countries on an annual basis,” he said.

The Property Tax & Rent Rebate Program, conceived by the state legislature in 1971, has provided $6.8 billion in public funds since that time, according to figures cited in a statement by state lawmakers.

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DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Mastriano was later joined in sponsorship of the legislation by State Sen. Mario Scavello, R-Mount Pocono, who recently drafted a plan that would relocate illegal immigrants flown into Pennsylvania on Biden administration-sanctioned “ghost flights” to the president’s home state of Delaware.

If the illegal immigrant relocations are “good enough for Pennsylvania, then why not redirect the relocation to Delaware?” Scavello said in January after officials in his state were publicly questioning the often dark-of-night arrivals.

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A Pennsylvania welcome sign greets drivers on US-222 entering Peach Bottom, Pa., from Maryland, 2022.

A Pennsylvania welcome sign greets drivers on US-222 entering Peach Bottom, Pa., from Maryland, 2022.
(Fox News/Charlie Creitz)

At the time, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s office told Fox News that such flights into the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, airport were not ending in the city but instead passing through en route to sponsors and guardians elsewhere.

Both Mastriano and Scavello have criticized Pennsylvania’s high property taxes, with Scavello saying some migrants are putting a further stressor on the public education system funded by that revenue source.

The remittance bill’s two other sponsors are Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-Stewartstown, and Pat Stefano, R-Somerset. 

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