Scranton Joe and Immigration
By Joe Guzzardi
On the rare occasions that Joe Biden emerged from his basement into the daylight in the run-up to the election, he touted his Scranton roots. Biden’s tone was along the lines of, “Hey, it’s me, plain old Blue-Collar Joe, a guy from working-class Scranton who will make American workers’ concerns my administration’s priority.” Biden chided President Trump for playing golf with his wealthy pals, disingenuously inferring that that the president’s friendships with the elite meant that he’s incapable of defending everyday Americans.
But even a cursory analysis of Biden’s immigration agenda shows that his goals represent the most radically anti-U.S. worker agenda in presidential history. Especially harmed will be residents in cities like Scranton where people are struggling to stay afloat. The last thing needed by small-town citizens looking for employment or hoping to hold onto their jobs is competition from millions of newly work-authorized immigrants.
Biden has repeatedly vowed – “we owe them [the illegal immigrants]” – to grant amnesty to the existing illegal immigrant population, at least 11 million people, but possibly as many as 20 million. Also included in Biden’s wish list is increasing refugee resettlement from President Trump’s 15,000 to 125,000 annually, more generous asylum guidelines, quasi-open borders, freezing deportations during his first 100 days, and a restructured – read watered down – Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
In addition, Biden’s priorities include reviewing with an intention to expand foreign nationals who qualify for Temporary Protected Status, reinstating deferred action for childhood arrivals – DACA – and reversing President Trump’s travel ban on 13 nations that affected mostly Muslim countries. Under Biden, legal immigration would soar. Biden nonchalantly claimed that the U.S. could “in a heartbeat” absorb another 2 million legal immigrants per year which would put the annual permanent lawful residents intake to more than 3 million.
Biden’s appointment of Ron Klain as his chief of staff ensures more employment-based visas. Klain has lobbied on behalf of Silicon Valley for an endless inflow of H-1B visas that displace U.S. tech workers or deny recently graduated science, technology, engineering and math university students opportunities to vie for IT jobs. About 650,000 H-1B visa workers are in the domestic labor market at any one moment, and more than 85,000 U.S. tech jobs are at risk annually because of the H-1B visa.
While calculating the precise number of new lifetime valid work permits that would be issued under a four-year Biden administration, the total could easily reach or surpass 35 million, an outcome that would be bad news for Scranton residents and others who live in similar lower middle-class cities.
The most recent Census Bureau data shows that 85 percent of Scranton residents don’t have college diplomas, and only 56 percent of the working age population are employed. In 2018, the median Scranton household income was $39,000, the per capita income $22,000 and the percent of individuals living in poverty, 24 percent.
Nevertheless, Scranton voted overwhelmingly for Biden because, wroteThe Philadelphia Inquirer, he connected with Northeastern Pennsylvania’s working-class people in places like Northeastern Pennsylvania by touting his Scranton upbringing. The Biden family left Scranton nearly 70 years ago when manufacturing, mining and railroading were thriving. In his lifetime, Biden has never held a job outside of politics, and has had three failed presidential campaigns.
Like Biden, Scranton’s U.S. Representative, Matt Cartwright (D), is no friend to local workers. Although his website states that his “number one priority is to bring good-paying, family-sustaining jobs to Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Cartwright has since his 2012 election consistently voted in favor of amnesty enticements, more employment visas and less border enforcement.
The simple and indisputable conclusion is that more immigration, which Biden, Cartwright and others on both sides of the congressional aisle enthusiastically endorse, harms working Americans. Especially hurt are those with less than a college education and minorities, a fact that eluded Scranton voters and millions of others who cast 2020 ballots.
The takeaway going forward is that pro-America candidates must do more effective messaging – address the readily available Census and Department of Homeland Security information to connect higher immigration levels to more work-authorization documents. Pro-American isn’t anti-immigrant. Being a native son, like Pennsylvania-born Biden is, shouldn’t be the deciding factor that elevates a candidate who puts American interests last into the White House. But wily candidates like Biden capitalize on under-informed voters. As the old truism in political circles goes, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at email@example.com.