On February 2, 2017, a delegation of constituents and immigrant rights advocates visited the offices of Pittsburgh Representative Dom Costa (D, Stanton Heights) to ask him to commit to support the civil rights and humanity of all immigrants in Pennsylvania by stating he would no longer sponsoring legislation that attacks immigrants.
Costa refused. Two weeks later, he brought new racist legislation to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by co-sponsoring HB 459, which, if passed, would further endanger immigrant workers.
The representative has drawn attention from immigrants' rights advocates since he was listed as co-sponsor of HB 14, a bill in the General Assembly that would withhold state funding from state universities that designated themselves as sanctuary campuses. Costa has since removed his co-sponsorship and stated on Twitter that he was “wrongly … listed online.”
However, the legislative record of the former Pittsburgh Police Chief is evidence that, when it comes to matters of immigration and refugees, he will favor “law and order” over the protection of the most vulnerable members of the Pittsburgh community.
- In 2017, Costa co-sponsored HB 459, which would lead to more immigrant workers having to work in dangerous conditions or for below minimum wage by penalizing employers who choose to employ undocumented people.
- In 2017, Costa demonstrated neutrality to HB 14: a proposed bill that will require university staff to participate in immigration enforcement by requiring them to share student’s personal information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bill will cut state funding for institutions that do not comply with ICE. Although Costa is no longer co-sponsoring the bill, he refused to publicly state that he would vote no on the bill.
- In 2017, Costa demonstrated neutrality to SB 10: dubbed the Municipal Sanctuary and Federal Enforcement or SAFE Act. The legislation would refuse access to healthcare to undocumented persons, asserting that they are “illegal” and therefore not entitled to basic human rights or human dignity.
- In 2016, Costa supported HB 1885, a bill very similar to SB 10. The bill encouraged racial profiling among local law enforcement by granting them new powers to enforce immigration laws, including the power for enforcement officers to question individuals about their immigration status. The bill also sought to refuse federal funding for sanctuary cities.
- In 2016, Costa introduced SB 976, a bill that would make it nearly impossible for citizens to access body camera footage that would expose police overreach or permit criminal proceedings to be taken against police officers. The footage would be withheld if the agency decided it was a part of an ongoing investigation, meaning relevant footage connected to incidents of police brutality would be inaccessible to the public.
- In 2016, Costa supported HB 1894, requiring private employers to verify the citizenship status of new hires.
- In 2015, Costa supported House Bill 809, a bill that made it illegal to release the names of officers under investigation for shooting or hurting citizens. Costa, a former police officer, cited his injury “in the line of duty” as the reason for his sponsorship of the bill. (Costa was shot by members of a SWAT team who rushed the room during a botched stand off; he was not wearing a bullet proof vest when he was shot and committed other blunders that led to a 10 day suspension he avoided serving by retiring first.)
- In 2015, Dom Costa co-sponsored a House resolution asking Governor Tom Wolf to reject new Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania. The resolution also asked then-President Obama to direct the Department of Homeland Security to review its security procedures for vetting refugees and to send a report detailing the increased measures to the states that were under consideration to receive refugees.
- In 2015, Dom Costa co-sponsored HB 237, which required people to prove their citizenship status before they could access public benefits.
- In 2011, Costa supported HB 361 and HB 888, which sought to “preserve, protect and strengthen” English in Pennsylvania and make the Commonwealth unwelcome to immigrants by making English the official language of the state and municipalities. The bills would have removed foreign-language resources from the state.