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Scott Perry and Shamaine Daniels debate immigration, Perry’s legal troubles

  • Robby Brod
Harrisburg City Councilwoman and Immigration lawyer Shamaine Daniels (left) will compete against U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10) for his seat in Congress on Nov. 8.

Harrisburg City Councilwoman and Immigration lawyer Shamaine Daniels (left) will compete against U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10) for his seat in Congress on Nov. 8.

Midstate Republican congressman Scott Perry and his Democratic opponent, immigration lawyer and Harrisburg City Councilwoman Shamaine Daniels, made it clear Wednesday that they hold differing views about asylum seekers and Perry’s legal challenges.

The two candidates competing to represent Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District participated in a debate hosted by ABC 27. The 30-minute event functioned more as a rapid-fire town hall than a debate. Daniels and Perry spent about three minutes each on topics including immigration, reproductive rights, and election security. 

When asked by moderator Dennis Owens about whether voters should be concerned about the FBI seizing his cell phone last month as part of an unnamed investigation, Perry repeated past statements that the FBI abused its power.

Federal officials secured a search warrant before making a copy of Perry’s phone and acquired another one to access its contents.

“I’m not a target of the investigation,” Perry said.

Perry also criticized the FBI for taking pillow company owner Mike Lindell’s cell phone.

Lindell has pushed disproven theories about election fraud, and the FBI seized his phone as part of an investigation into whether a Colorado county clerk illegally took voter information and posted it online.

Perry is of interest to the House January 6th Select Committee. He refused a subpoena from the committee, which wants to discuss his attempt to help install former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

Clark, whose cell phone was seized by the FBI in June, vowed to have the DOJ pursue Trump’s false claims of election fraud. He helped draft an unsent letter to the governor and state legislators in Georgia, which claimed the DOJ had concerns about election fraud, but provided no proof to support his claims. Top DOJ officials later testified to the committee that the DOJ had no such concerns.

Daniels said Perry can’t be trusted to advocate for secure elections until he cooperates with the Jan. 6 committee.

“First and foremost, I would like to make sure that we are reminded that Congressman Perry has refused to make statements under oath, which carry significantly more weight than statements in the press or on Twitter,” she said.

The debate cut away for a break at that point, and Perry didn’t respond after it resumed.

The committee has released multiple text and email exchanges showing Perry pushing disproven claims of election fraud to Trump White House officials.

In one, Perry urged Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to advise Trump to install Clark to challenge election results before Congress certified the election.

Two weeks before Jan. 6, Perry texted Meadows, “Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!”

Perry characterized Daniels as being anti-law enforcement, citing a bill she voted against in Harrisburg City Council to give police officers $65,000 for riot equipment.

“There are many, many reasons I voted against the riot gear and one of them is that we haven’t had any riots in the city of Harrisburg for as long as I’ve been alive,” she said. “And the closest we ever came was the one that Congressman Perry and Congressman Jim Jordan tried to incite in January of [2021].”

Perry responded, saying, “It’s absurd. It’s an absurd accusation.”

Screenshot from the only scheduled debate between Shamaine Daniels (left) and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10) [right] from Sept. 28, 2022. (Courtesy WHTM-TV)

Later, Perry blamed the uptick in fentanyl deaths in Pennsylvania on the increased numbers of asylum seekers crossing the southern border.

Daniels said Perry’s claims aren’t supported by facts.

“Our immigration system is designed to give people work authorization or in the long term, full civic participation in our communities,” she said. “There’s no drug dealer who is looking for work authorization, but our immigration system is not the one the drug dealers are using to continue to traffic in drugs.”

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, over 90% of fentanyl seizures last year  occurred at legal crossing points — not by those entering the country illegally.

In 2021, 86% of convicted fentanyl drug traffickers were U.S. citizens — 10 times greater than the number of asylum seekers convicted for the crime.

Perry claimed Daniels was against all deportations of asylum seekers, which she denied.

“I’ve advised many folks who are not eligible to be present in the U.S. to not continue to fight their ability to stay in the U.S. when they have felony convictions, when they’re involved in drug transactions,” she said. “So the thought that I’ve had a position that says, ‘no deportation,’ is not true.”

In her closing statement, Daniels highlighted the need to revitalize neglected areas of the commonwealth that lack the resources to fix themselves.

“Small farms are struggling. Our urban areas are struggling,” she said. “We need someone who can come in and help address the challenges that we’re facing that are too large for small municipalities to solve on their own.”

Perry took the opportunity to take aim at establishment Democrats.

“What we don’t need is another Biden/Pelosi rubber stamp in Washington D.C. You know me, you know I’m a fighter and you know what I’m focused on,” Perry said.

Daniels will challenge Perry for his U.S. House Seat on November 8th.

Pa. Republican lawmakers and the U.S. Capitol attack

As part of WITF’s commitment to standing with facts, and because the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attempt to overthrow representative democracy in America, we are marking elected officials’ connections to the insurrection. Read more about this commitment.

Rep. Scott Perry, who represents Dauphin and portions of York and Cumberland counties, voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes hours after a violent mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6 attacked the U.S. Capitol, killed a Capitol Police officer and threatened lawmakers and the vice president. The election-fraud lie led to the attack on the Capitol.

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