Smith-Wade-El and Hohenstein introduce legislation to create Office of New Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG, Oct. 17 – State Reps. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, and Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, today outlined their new legislation, House Bill 1630, that would create an Office of New Pennsylvanians to support, attract and retain immigrants in the commonwealth.

The lawmakers were joined by representatives from CASA, Church World Services, Lancaster City Council, IU13 Lancaster-Lebanon Refugee Center and Nationalities Service Center–Philadelphia at a Capitol news conference to discuss the bill. 

“Immigrants have made Pennsylvania the powerhouse it is,” Smith-Wade-El said. “Yet, despite foreign-born workers comprising over 8% of our state’s workforce and paying $3.3 billion yearly in state and local taxes, they are scapegoated and bear the brunt of punitive policies that drive them from our state. We’re the ones who lose out the most—at the expense of losing skilled workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and community leaders.

“Our bill would create an Office of New Pennsylvanians that would support, attract and retain immigrants in the commonwealth,” he said.

“Immigration is what makes Pennsylvania strong,” Hohenstein said. “Our collective ability to come together from all different backgrounds and perspectives for the betterment of the commonwealth is truly wonderful. That’s why it’s particularly unfortunate that so often our immigrant communities face the brunt of regressive and restrictive policies that harm their ability to prosper and deter further immigration. This legislation would ensure that Pennsylvania is able to grow and prosper and recognizes that immigration is a vital part of that.”

The bill was referred to the House State Government Committee for consideration.