“Racist” Western Pennsylvania Not Roiled By Immigration Wave—Yet
I`m filing my post-election analysis from right here in
the heart of "racist"
voters desperately "cling
to guns or religion or antipathy"
to people who
us, along with our notorious "anti-immigrant,
Murtha made the
President-elect Barack Obama told a group of well-heeled
liberal San Francisco donors how we cling to God and guns.
(Listen to his speech
To those allegations, we in
Murtha and Obama are cheap shot artists.
They can spout off whatever they please about us.
Our true character surfaced Tuesday night.
Pennsylvanians can take it; we`re thick-skinned.
Even though Obama holds us in low regard, we
voted for him in such overwhelming numbers that merely sixty
seconds after the polls closed, he was declared the winner of
our 21 pivotal electoral votes. (Or at least the
urban areas did.
whites voted for McCain 51%-48%, but that wasn`t enough to win).
As for Murtha, a poster boy for term
limits, all was forgiven. He too was
What Congressional candidate in this day and
age calls his constituents the most explosive word in the
is so quickly absolved?
But I went to
here. I have family and lots of friends who have lived here
for years. Murtha and Obama offended everyone with their
We`re not racist, bitter or
But we are
pro-American—and there`s a world of difference.
One reason western Pennsylvania sticks to its
traditional party allegiances: there is relatively little
immigration. (Note: the data cited throughout the rest of my
column is taken from
Today. org and refers to the Pittsburgh Metropolitan
Statistical Area, that is, Pittsburgh and its surrounding area.)
Only 0.9 percent of Pittsburgh`s population is
and has arrived within the last decade. Compare that to
where, as of 2005,
nearly 35 percent of residents were born outside of the U.S.
California, as well as the rest of the country, Mexicans
represent the largest foreign-born group. They arrive in a
completely uncontrolled fashion, accounting for 44 percent of
the state`s non-U.S.-born.
Mexican migrants who in previous decades
might have identified California as their destination now also
Nevada, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina.
But few come to Pennsylvania. The state ranks
fifteenth on the list of fifty with only 4.4 percent
foreign-born. (See Center for Immigration Studies,
Immigrants at Mid-Decade, by Steven Camarota.)
Specifically, they aren`t coming to
Pittsburgh. As of 2000, the Hispanic population was only 0.7
percent, the lowest of any major US city.
By national and benchmark norms, Pittsburgh`s
Hispanic population and its overall rate of in-migration is
I repeat, however, that this does not make us
What it does prove, however, is the theory
to which I have long subscribed: immigration begets immigration.
Analyzing Pittsburgh`s immigration data
going back for decades, it looks essentially the same as it is
shown in Census 2000—that is, immigrants represent less than 1
percent of the total population.
But people are confused as to why
Pittsburgh has so little immigration.
Here are the reasons they incorrectly point
Lack of jobs
In fact, the job market is relatively
strong. In the year from September 2007 to September 2008,
Pittsburgh jobs increased in four of five key sectors: non-farm,
private, service and education and health care.
As with jobs, Pittsburgh wages are strong
compared to the national average. Pittsburgh had a 5 percent
increase in annual wages between 2005 and 2006 and outpaced the
U.S. average. Between 2006 and 2007, annual wages in Pittsburgh
rose another 3.8 percent. The numbers for average weekly wages,
which are tabulated separately, continued positive in the first
quarter of 2008. (To download the complete wage dataset,
Wrong again. Pittsburgh`s cost of living
index was lower than both the national and benchmark regional
averages in both 2007 and the first two quarters of 2008.
Too far from the Mexico/U.S. border.
Naturally, it is easier to get from Mexico to
California or Arizona. But while Pittsburgh is approximately
2,100 miles from the border, New Brunswick, New Jersey that
13 percent Hispanic population and a
Mexican consulate, is three hundred miles further.
Since Pittsburgh has few immigrants, Americans
hold our jobs, most schools don`t offer
English as a
city status is not under consideration, we don`t
"press 1", we
have no bilingual signs in our supermarkets and no one knows
chain migration is.
In summary, since Pittsburgh has virtually
no immigrants and therefore no services that cater to them,
we`re protected against having much more immigration in the near
Now, to be sure,
Some local academics argue for more
immigration, claiming that Pittsburgh could never have been the
steel center it was without the workers who came here from
across the globe to keep the factories running.
Nevertheless, little grassroots support
exists for more immigration.
Since my Pittsburgh arrival, I`ve assumed a
new role: prophet.
To my friends and neighbors, I say:
"Enjoy the Americana
around you. Protect it."
Then I add a cautionary note:
"Things can change
than you could ever imagine."
After all, I grew up California—then .
him] is a California native
who recently fled the state because of over-immigration,
over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He
has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the
growth rate stable. A
long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School,
Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It
currently appears in the