‘Scranton’ Joe and immigration

Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses the nation at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 6. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON — 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 Donald 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 United States 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. This outcome 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% of Scranton residents don’t have college diplomas, and only 56% 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, wrote The 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. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) is no friend to local workers. Although his website states that his “No. 1 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 jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

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(10) comments


JG, Holy moly! Who is going to pick the grapes, strawberries, lettuce etc. That's what work visas are for! Otherwise we starve, and farmers dont have workers. Joe is more of a friend to workers than any oil pumping republican. Besides oil slowly killing us, the carbon business is shedding jobs faster than a well fed cobra sheds his skin. The smart folks on either coast, collaborate and play well together, developing electric cars and power walls. The ill educated ninnies want to dig coal and be miners, much like the luddites wanted to make buggy whips and not cars. Go ahead redneck, spit on my Tesla, coal my Prius, then live in abject poverty coveting the idealogues of the republican party.

hermit thrush



Protectionism just artificially maintains conditions that are untenable in the long run. To maintain standards for workers, make sure existing standards apply to immigrant workers. And on a larger scale, improve conditions and standards elsewhere through international agreements that favor countries that maintain high standards. Without international trade we would have a much lower standard of living unless it's unfair trade. When we say we want to make sure Americans get better treatment in the labor market just because they are Americans, without having to also give up cheap imports, what we are saying is that we want our government to impose empire, to maintain near slavery conditions in other countries and guarantee us the benefit just on the basis of our noble birth rather than our superior competitiveness.


Scranton Boy, who never held a job that wasn't political, will march increasingly in tune to the socialist band. They are pushing hard. Workers will pay the price. Sounds like many Scrantonians deserve the president they are likely to get (Harris).

hermit thrush

delusional. biden ran as the moderate in the democratic primary and, for better or worse, he meant it.


Right, that's why he picked the MOST liberal senator as his running mate!

hermit thrush

he picked sen. harris to balance his ticket. if you don't like biden, then fine, but words have meaning. the guy who took a hard line against medicare for all (and obviously meant it) is no socialist.

hermit thrush

and i mean, the refutation of what pb is saying is embedded in his/her own comment. liberals and socialists are very different groups of people. right-wing minds which have been rotted by partisanship may have a hard time understanding the difference, but in the real world of american politics, actual socialists kind of hate liberals -- and in the case at hand, the socialist left indeed does not like harris.

i know it's asking a lot, but it would be nice if people like pb could get out of their bubble and learn something about their fellow americans.


Come on PB... Biden graduated from SU was employed as a lawyer... wife and daughter killed in a auto crash...lost a son to cancer... his successes, despite tragedies in his personal life.. were earned...father cleaned furnaces and sold cars.... Joe took on summer jobs to get through college.. no elite privilege ... regardless of his political position... Reminder...other VP's candidates weren't everyone's first choice... Dan Quail.. . Sara Palin... and Congress has a vote in our gov't..


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