Metcalfe Stakes Out National Role in Immigration Debate
State Representative Daryl Metcalfe knows how to draw a crowd of cameras. Over the past three years, using provocative terms like “illegal alien invaders,” Metcalfe has generated maximum exposure for his exceedingly conservative views on immigration
The conservative Butler County lawmaker, a self-proclaimed “Tea Partier before it was cool,” hosted a press conference yesterday in Washington DC to take aim at so-called “anchor babies.” Speaking with a national coalition he founded, State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), Metcalfe announced plans for state legislation that would make it impossible for the children of illegal immigrants to receive state-certified birth certificates.
“It should cause quite a stir,” Metcalfe mused during an interview last week. And it has. The proposal made headlines in dozens of media outlets across the country, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN.
It’s the latest of Metcalfe’s advocacy for strongly conservative immigration initiatives. He made news last year when he offered a controversial Arizona-style immigration bill in the State House. Metcalfe’s website features a long list of news stories of his immigration legislation, press conferences, and rallies.
A National Role
PoliticsPA sat down with Rep. Metcalfe last week to discuss his plans for immigration legislation, as well as his efforts with SLLI. Asked if he sought the national spotlight on the issue, the answer was yes.
“I have been playing a national role in the debate,” Metcalfe said. “That’s why I created State Legislators for Legal Immigration, to try to bring some of my colleagues across the country together so we could get more movement on these issues nationally.”
“I was down in Phoenix speaking at a rally in June of this year, in support of Arizona. We just held a workshop in DC that I hosted… talking about the misapplication of the 14th Amendment.”
Metcalfe has built quite a media resume for himself, especially compared to the average state legislator. He readily ticked off his national appearances, not including the flurry of coverage generated by yesterday’s press conference.
“I was on Greta’s show twice talking about it, I was on Fox and Friends talking about it, I was on Cavuto talking about it,” he recalled.
Last year, Metcalfe received media coverage when he launched a surprise campaign for Lieutenant Governor. He played the part of Tea Party underdog, earning the scorn of the Republican establishment.
“I am leading an offensive charge normally, whatever I’m working on.” Metcalfe said of his efforts. “It’s that offensive strategy that puts you in the position of being loved or hated.”
And hated he is. Metcalfe’s flamboyant language has earned him the reputation of a zealot and innumerable detractors. In recent years he’s offended Muslims, gays, victims of domestic violence, and climate-conscious veterans.
The issue of immigration is no different. Metcalfe routinely uses phrases like “illegal alien invaders,” “leeching off the system,” and of course “anchor babies” to address the subject.
“They’re words of a self-righteous hatemonger,” said Brad Baldia, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Immigration & Citizenship Coalition; a sentiment that was roundly echoed by left-leaning issue activists across the state. “He does not value the contributions of undocumented immigrants and other new Americans to Pennsylvania and our country.”
The GOP takeover of the State House has given Metcalfe yet another platform: the chairmanship of the influential State Government Committee which typically oversees immigration issues. His Arizona-style immigration bill was buried in this committee last session.
Metcalfe said he plans to re-introduce the legislation later this year.
With majorities in the State House, State Senate and a Republican Governor, the path appears to be clear for immigration legislation in PA. Polls in 2010 showed wide support in Pennsylvania for an Arizona-style law.
Sources in the House GOP, including Metcalfe himself, expect that immigration issues could come to the floor as early as this fall – after the GOP has a chance to tackle jobs legislation and the budget.
“Addressing the illegal alien issues is one of my top priorities,” said Metcalfe. “We’ve already sent the co-sponsor letter out.”
Whether or not his bill passes this time around, one thing is certain: Rep. Metcalfe’s spotlight is about to get much brighter.
- Note: PoliticsPA will explore the politics of the proposed Arizona-style immigration bill in the coming days.