Protestors push Pitts on immigration

Police break up peaceful Willowdale event after neighbor complains


More than two dozen Chester County residents gathered Monday morning to tell U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-16) to support the proposed immigration reform bill in the U.S. House. The peaceful event was ultimately broken up by police after a neighbor complained.

Updated: 4:30, adds comment from Rep. Pitts.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — More than two dozen county residents gathered to prod U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-16) to get behind a bipartisan immigration reform effort, before police broke up the peaceful gathering, Monday morning, near Pitts’ Willowdale district office.

“We know he’s not here,” said Rhett Lipscom, the Chester County Administrator for Organizing For America of Pitts. “But we hope that he gets the message.”

Although no one from Pitts’ staff said they objected to the peaceful event and all attendees were invited into the office to offer formal comment on the issue to the Congressman, a neighboring business owner called police to complain about the gathering in the parking lot. Township police responded about 45 minutes into the event, which primarily involved a few chants and people waiving signs, Police asked the protesters to leave, and they did.

Monday afternoon, Pitts’ staff issued a statement from the congressman, which while it did not say where he stood on the current bill, did express his thanks for the civil manner of those in attendance today.

“A functioning and welcoming immigration system is essential to American prosperity,” the statement said. “We need to take the politics out of this issue and do what is right. I hear frequently from constituents on all sides of this debate. There is a lot that needs to be fixed with our immigration law. I’m glad people are making their voices heard. I understand the people who visited my Willowdale office today were very friendly and civil, and I thank them for their courtesy. The Senate has passed a bill.  This fall, the House will be debating the issue too and considering a series of bills.”

While Lipscom said she was pretty sure that Pitts was not going to support the immigration reform bill, a  Pitts spokesman said that the congressman — as is the case with his Chester County colleagues, Pat Meehan (R-7) and Jim Gerlach (R-6) — has not formally stated a position on the legislation, crafted as a compromise between U.S. Senate Republicans and Democrats earlier this year.


Local residents look to get their message to U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-16) at his Willowdale office, Monday.

Lipscom noted that Pitts — maybe uniquely among Chester County Congressmembers — may be persuadable. The 16th District is one of the top mushroom growing regions in the country and local agriculture has been dependent on immigrant labor, primarily Mexican, for decades. She admits that local Tea Party members, who some at the rally compared to the “Know-Nothings,” a rabid, anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant party from the 1850s that later became incorporated in the modern Republican Party, would likely be pressing Pitts in the opposite direction. Seeking to remind Pitts that others in the community have opinions was the primary reason for Monday’s event.

“We hope he’ll hold out,” Lipscombe said. “We all deserve a chance.”

Babette Janny, from Newlin, said she came to Monday’s rally in the hope of increasing awareness of the issue in the greater public.

OFA, the organizing group that morphed from President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, is pushing the economic impact of passing immigration reform, and Lipscombe pointed to the four key points her organization is making in support of the legislation.

She cited a report from Center for American Progress saying, among other things, if the reform bill passes the local economic impact will be the following:

• In Pennsylvania, the 10-year cumulative increase in GSP will be $14.8 billion.

• The increase in the earnings of state residents will be $9.3 billion

• Immigration reform will create an average of an additional 2,100 jobs annually.

• Immigrants will experience increases in their income and pay more taxes to their states. In Pennsylvania, over the 10-year period it is estimated that they will earn $7.7 billion more and pay an additional $810 million in state and local taxes on these increased earnings.

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  1. Disappointed says:

    Congressman Pitts has a very ineffective district office. An nice young man answers and when asked to help with a Social Security problem he responds, “We don’t do that”. Is that because they are incompetent or because Pitts doesn’t believe in Social Security Disability for those in need? SS is a federal program and that is a Congressman’s duty to assist.’
    He’s been there too long.

  2. Angie says:

    As a fellow Republican, I also ask Joe Pitts to SUPPORT immigration reform. We have many “illegal aliens” or undocumented Hispanics who are members of our church. I’ve known these people for YEARS and have heard their life story. They contribute to our society and our American is every way except status. We need to make it right.

    • Observing says:

      Unquestionably, many illegals are nice, hard-working people. However, more than a few are not. Maybe you and your fellow members of your church can help these nice folks you know pursue a legal path to citizenship. There is no need to over-haul the entire system and grant amnesty simply because some of the law-breakers are nice people.

  3. n your immigration thing we need to take care of us in the us now that is all we need more workers we can’t Support did you ever think that we have to do more to Support us here first and stop giveing all the free RIDES i have a Friend that is Homeless and needs a place to live and is working 45 to 50 hours per week and can’t even get a place to live i’m haveing a Hard time as well and every time i get a little bit ahead i fall back ( you i think you are a great person ) but you do need to sit down and think about the whole thing ) you are a little bit out of touch with things 1960 1.86,1961 1.87, 2011 3.53, now you tell me were we are going in 1977 my dad got a new car and he paid $7.000 for it today that car will cost you $30,000 to $40,000 FOR THAT SAME CAR sue if i make you MAD i’m sorry but you do need to wake up and smell the coffee we are so far in the hole we will never get out Thank You Michael Ruoss Sr

  4. Vic Dupuis says:

    Let’s show a little journalistic integrity here. Was it a “few people waving signs”, or “More than two dozen people gathered to prod Congressman Pitts? The fact is, they didn’t prod Congressman Pitts (who was not even there), nor did they have any intention to do so, or they would have spent their time in his office protesting, not out on the parking lot where they prevented customers from parking to conduct business. This protest was staged on PRIVATE PROPERTY. The landowner, who leases space to many businesses, called the police because the protesters were in effect trespassing, taking up space for business clients and disrupting the flow of business. There’s nothing wrong with protesting and exercising free speech rights, as long as it is done legally. I also find it ironic that the very data they use to support their position on the issue at hand- that is, the disruption of local business – is what their protest in fact did – disrupt local business.

    • Observing says:

      This is the same group of people who “protested” Mr. Pitts’ office when he wasn’t there a year ago over the ginned-up “Republican’s war on women.” Two dozen seems a high estimate based on the photos.

    • john says:

      If the landlord doesn’t want people to exercise their constitutional right to assemble and protest their elected representative, then perhaps he should cancel Mr. Pitts lease on his property. The police have no business interfering with the rights of these people to peacefully assemble on a parking lot that is a public accommodation. Shame…shame…shame

    • More than a few of us says:

      I was just pointed to this story and read your comment with interest. As one of the protestors, I’d say we were more than a few and close enough to a couple dozen for noone to quibble.
      I agree with your comments on journalistic integrity though.
      Mike failed to note you were the neighbor who acted like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum, and as I recall, you shouted to him to wait and see what comes next. I guess he was protecting you, which in light your comments seems like a kind of stupid move, but maybe he’ll learn from it.
      As for you, as someone who voted for you as school director, i couldnt be more disappointed in your bullying both that day and on this sight.
      you should be ashamed.

  5. tess says:

    I ask joe Pitts TO SUPPORT an immigration bill. As a teacher I know a few families who are in this country illegally (wonderful parents and kids who deserve a life outside the shadows)

  6. Sarah Jane says:

    These people are uneducated about this immigration bill and how it will take down our Constitution and damage the entire country. I ask Joe Pitts to NOT SUPPORT an amnesty/immigration bill. There is nothing about Obama’s amnesty/immigratiioin effort that would bring about American Prosperity….NOTHING. His goal is to bring anti-American policy to America and to do away with our Constitution. These folks need to “change the station” or find other national media that reports TRUTH.

  7. Marice Bezdek says:

    Let’s make our hard working neighbors legal, so they can contribute more than their labor to the economy and society.

  8. forumsforjustice says:

    Let’s not make our Illegal Immigration Problem any worse than it already is

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