Joe Guzzardi: Bussed migrants prove limits to inviting the world

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Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

Emotions are raw; temperatures are heated, and embattled parties are exchanging strong statements. The uproar’s cause: illegal immigrants being sent to sanctuary cities. New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. mayors Eric Adams, Lori Lightfoot, and Muriel Bowser allege that Texas, Florida, and Arizona governors – Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, and Doug Ducey, respectively – are playing politics with migrants’ lives, and that racism motivates their actions.

After calling Abbott a racist, Lightfoot openly questioned the Texas governor’s Christian values. Bowser declared that the migrants’ arrival constituted a public emergency and asked the White House to summon the National Guard, an ignored request. Fulfilling a promise he made in April and upping the ante in the immigration debate, DeSantis sent two planes with migrants, mostly Venezuelans, to Martha’s Vineyard, an elitist playground. In the spring, the Florida Department of Transportation received DeSantis’ approval to set aside $12 million to fly the aliens to Martha’s Vineyard and Delaware. Abbott sent two busloads to D.C.’s Naval Observatory, Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence.

DeSantis and the other governors counter the mayors’ political grandstanding charges by saying that the financial burden illegal immigrants create should be shared among the states. In the governors’ collective opinions, no destinations are better suited as new homes for aliens than sanctuary cities whose leaders have long avowed their willingness to accept them.

Days after the migrants arrived in Chicago – and the total 500 headcount is minuscule compared to the millions that have crossed into Texas – Lightfoot changed her hospitable tone. She shipped the aliens unannounced to suburban Elk Grove Village. Mayor Craig Johnson was as displeased as Adams, Lightfoot, and Bowser with the influx of mostly poor, undereducated, and unskilled into his municipality. Johnson asked: “Why are they coming to Elk Grove?”

Johnson’s question is valid. From the moment migrants cross the border, during their resettlement, and indefinitely into the future, taxpayers fund the exorbitant costs.

new financial analysis from the Federation for American Immigration Reform found that to provide for the 1.3 million illegal aliens that Biden has released into the interior and the 1 million estimated gotaways, taxpayers will be assessed $20.4 billion annually, a sum that will be added to the existing $140 billion that’s allotted each year to the existing, long-term illegal alien population. FAIR estimates that each illegal alien costs American taxpayers $9,232 per year and further calculates that the $20.4 billion could provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to more than 7 million additional needy families, fund and expand the entire National School Lunch Program, hire more than 315,000 police officers to combat the nation’s escalating crime wave across the country, and hire 330,000 new teachers, which would end America’s long-standing teacher shortage.

The billions of dollars spent on migrants is against a backdrop of unmet needs in American families. A Brandeis University study found that 35 percent of American families, despite working full-time, year-round, do not meet the “basic family needs budget” – the amount needed for rent, food, transportation, medical care, and minimal household expenses. For black and Hispanic families, 50 percent cannot afford life’s fundamentals. The Brandeis survey showed that low-income families with children are struggling; more than two-thirds of full-time workers don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Those families would need to earn about $11 more per hour to fully cover basic costs, or about $23,500 in additional annual earnings. Black and Hispanic families would require a $12 hourly income spike, $26,500 annually, to meet the family budget.

Joe Biden campaigned as Scranton Joe, working America’s champion. But as president, Biden has abandoned his commitment to lower- and middle-class families. Instead, Biden has rewarded illegally present foreign nationals with billions of dollars. As a result, Scranton Joe is as unpopular in his hometown as he is nationwide. In Pennsylvania’s 8th District, that includes Scranton, Biden’s approval rating is 38 percent, indicative of his failures.

Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined Progressives for Immigration Reform in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.