Let’s be clear: Legal and illegal immigration accounts for a huge part of the region’s economic progress. The difference between legal and illegal immigration in our region is not “border jumping” but expired visas – just paperwork that the federal government need to fix. Most undocumented workers came here legally and continue to support our country, paying taxes (even when they get no benefit) and often 100% of their health care. We have less crime and violence from illegal immigrants than we do from our home-raised deplorables. Political propaganda that finger-points immigrants as a scapegoat for our economic woes might get you elected but it is still wrong.
US Representative Lou Barletta (@RepLouBarletta) of Hazelton, PA admits “I’ve been called names, a racist and a bigot” and indeed his past actions earn him that notoriety. He supports building the southern border wall and banning Muslims from entering the US. He is a strong Trump supporter even now after the latest scandals. He has now emerged as the second largest small business threat (beneath Senator Toomey as out #1 threat) to Pennsylvania’s social and economic prosperity.
Hazelton has a long and disturbing history of racist and anti-immigrant problems that goes back decades. I remember these issues in the news since I was a teenager. This is their unfortunate but unique cultural issue that may actually not be resolved anytime soon among the mostly white, low education voter base that is still reeling from the loss of coal and steel industries. It is a sad story but certainly not typical of most of Pennsylvanians’ experience. Hazelton certainly should not be used as a model for the rest of Pennsylvania.
It is wrong for Barletta to push his scarcity mentality and bigoted beliefs on the rest of Pennsylvania. During this Congressional session he sponsored H.R.83 – Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act which proposes to remove all federal funding from a state or local government that refuses to turn over information about its residents’ immigration status to federal authorities. (Like many dangerous legislative proposals, the title of this bill is misleading and intended to be innocuous. Read the text to understand what it really does to hurt communities that oppose Trump).
Philadelphia and other local communities have vowed to resist community raids and mass deportation by refusing to coöperate with immigration officials. We know that illegal immigrants are not a major problem for us. We see that the proposed legislation does more harm than good. Barletta’s proposal of withholding federal funding – funding paid by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania’s strongest immigrant-fueled communities like the high-tech corridor here- is just wrong and very dangerous to our local small business community.