Congressional candidate Jim Bognet this week denounced transport of illegal aliens into Pennsylvania and rebuked his prospective opponent Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) for inattention to the issue.
The Republican attorney and small-business owner who challenged Cartwright in 2020 aims to do so again next year and is taking the Democrat to task for his pro-open-borders record and his general alignment with President Joe Biden on migration and border security. A Hazleton native, Bognet said illegal immigration has palpably burdened parts of the Keystone State’s northeast. He called for a return to the tighter security policies pursued by former President Donald Trump and for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
In recent days, four airplanes have reportedly flown illegal entrants into Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport over the past two weeks. James Gallagher, president of government contractor Aviation Technologies, has publicly noted a fifth flight is scheduled to land on December 30. Gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta has cited eyewitness observance that as many as 180 individuals alighted those aircraft.
“I think that these flights are preposterous,” Bognet told The Pennsylvania Daily Star. “When President Trump was in office, everything that he did was to try to get the border solved. Everything he did was to try to crack down and send the message: ’We are not open to illegal immigrants.’”
According to the D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), America’s foreign-born population hit a record high of 46.2 million people in last month, with illegal entries being a major driver of that figure.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA-09) and Barletta, himself a former northeastern-Pennsylvania congressman, and have sent inquiries to Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) to ascertain details regarding the flights in question. Meuser’s letter asked for the total number of illegal aliens being brought into the region and the conditions upon which they would be released as well as whether the government is reunifying the immigrants with relatives or placing them in confinement. The congressman further inquired about what tracking measures and COVID protocols federal officials are undertaking.
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) reproved Biden for facilitating similar flights of illegals away from the Mexican border into his state, critics responded that the Trump administration also organized flights of migrant children away from the border to await adjudication or resettlement. Bognet said the crux of the problem is that Biden and his congressional allies like Cartwright have rigidly opposed efforts to mitigate the influx of illegal aliens, exacerbating the number whose cases are eventually processed in the U.S.
“Congressman Cartwright votes for every illegal-immigrant idea that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-CA-12] puts up there,” Bognet said. “Anytime President Trump tried to solve the immigration problem, Matt Cartwright voted against it…. We’ve seen that faucet [of illegal entrants] switch back open because I believe Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Matt Cartwright have put up a flashing neon sign saying to illegal immigrants: ‘Come here.’”
Among the disagreements the GOP candidate said he has with Cartwright include the latter’s opposition to building a border wall as well as voting in favor of the HEROES Act in 2020 which authorized bestowing stimulus checks on illegals. The restrictionist nonprofit Numbers USA has given Cartwright a grade of F for his record on immigration.
Bognet said a major problem that the inflow of illegals has worsened in and near his hometown has been an upsurge in drug-related crime, particularly the street proliferation of the painkilling drug fentanyl. Overdoses on that opioid are the current number-one cause of death for those between the ages of 18 and 45. The heightened presence of such substances and attendant tragedy contrasts sharply with the less troubled atmosphere Bognet said many in the region used to know.
“Hazleton, PA was a very idyllic city to grow up in,” he reflected. “You left your doors open at night in the eighties and nineties when I was growing up. Now it’s been ravaged by illegal immigration. Not a month goes by when there’s not a big drug bust. We’ve been called by out of state newspapers “the heroin capital of northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m disgusted by that.”
Cartwright’s campaign did not return a call for comment.
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