Photo courtesy of the campaign
Gubernatorial candidate and former business consultant Paul Mango (R-Richland) released a video on Dec. 1 decrying so-called “sanctuary cities”
(municipalities that limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers). “As your next governor I will guarantee you this: We are not going to tolerate sanctuary cities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Mango
in the video. He was referencing a recent court ruling in San Francisco, where an undocumented immigrant was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in the accidental shooting death of Kate Steinle
Critics claim that San Francisco’s sanctuary policy allowed the immigrant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, to avoid deportation even though he had been convicted of some drug charges prior to the shooting. After the shooting, Zarate was still convicted of illegal firearm possession, and will likely be deported. However, immigration experts, like Pittsburgh immigration lawyer Abbie Rosario, say that sanctuary policies encourage immigrants to report crimes and keep neighborhoods safer. Rosario says that politicians like Mango who criticize sanctuary cities
aren’t necessarily focused on policy, but are more interested in espousing “racist undertones.”
“They are trying to target immigrants,” says Rosario. “They are trying to encourage automatically profiling people.”
Mango’s criticism of sanctuary policies is particularly surprising because his campaign is so focused on pro-growth policies, and in Pennsylvania growth is occurring only in conjunction with immigration.
Mango wrote a policy paper entitled “Restoring the Dream,”
decrying the state’s stagnant population growth, and claiming it is hurting economic activity and opportunity in Pennsylvania.
“Meanwhile, our citizens are leaving the Commonwealth for greater job opportunities elsewhere,” wrote Mango in the paper. “We have a net outward migration of our population, largely composed of new college graduates. In 2016, the Commonwealth lost population for the first time since 1985.”
Mango is referencing a U.S. Census one-year estimates that shows that Pennsylvania lost about 18,000 residents from 2015 to 2016. (According to a U.S. Census five-year estimate — a more accurate accounting — the population actually grew by 4,000 residents from 2015 to 2016.) Regardless, like most politicians would, Mango wants to see Pennsylvania have more robust population growth. But he has failed to acknowledge immigration’s role in the state’s growth. In Mango’s policy paper, he mentions population growth or loss more than a dozen times throughout his plan, but never mentions the words "immigrant" or "migrant."
This seems like a huge omission considering that immigrants
are the only reason the state is not losing many tens of thousands more residents. In 2016, 316,137 new residents moved into the state from outside of Pennsylvania. Of those, 25 percent were immigrants. Of the 79,120 immigrants who moved here, 80 percent were not U.S. citizens. Considering that only 6.8 percent of Pennsylvanians are foreign-born, immigrants are an outsized factor in state's population growth.
Pennsylvania saw a negative net migration of 45,565 native-born Americans from 2015 to 2016. (That is, about 45,000 more native-born Americans left than moved here.) From 2010-2016, Pennsylvania saw a negative net migration of about 183,000 native-born Americans.
During the same time period, the Keystone State saw a positive net migration of 34,678 foreign-born residents. And from 2010-2016, Pennsylvania saw a positive net migration of more than 195,000 foreign-born residents.
Native-born Americans are just not moving to Pennsylvania quickly enough to grow the state’s population. In the regions of the state that are seeing population growth, like Reading, Lancaster, Allentown and Philadelphia, that growth is primarily driven by Latino immigrants. (For a state where native-born Americans are moving, look to Texas, which saw 125,000 native-born residents move in.)
“Most people don't think of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as a place to come, but immigrants do,” says immigration lawyer Rosario.
A request for comment to Mango's campaign went unanswered as of press time.
Most Republican politicians, like Mango, are careful to not broadly attack all immigrants, instead focusing on the undocumented. But conservatives in Pennsylvania are rarely heard speaking about the benefits of immigrants.
Rosario says that this is a mistake considering the positive economic impact
immigrants have already had on Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. According to recent report
released by pro-immigrant and pro-business coalition the New American Economy, 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s workers are employed by immigrant-owned businesses, even though immigrants make up only 6 percent of the state’s population.
Additionally, the report shows that immigrant-owned businesses in the Pittsburgh region may be creating more working-class jobs. From 2000-2015, Pittsburgh saw a 91 percent increase in immigrant entrepreneurs, and approximately an 11 percent increase in working-class employment in manufacturing among all demographics.
“The immigrants are the ones opening businesses,” says Rosario. “They have the desire and the gumption to actually open a business and make it successful.”