Photo credit: Kirsten Luce/The New York Times

Philadelphia is welcoming busloads of asylum seekers, but Biden must act

Article published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on November 28, 2022.

Four buses of asylum seekers have now arrived in Philadelphia, sent unannounced by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. These asylum seekers come from a number of South and Central American countries. They await their day in court to determine the validity of their asylum claims. 

Within a few days, many of these asylum seekers were picked up by family members or friends within their respective immigrant communities. This is a much better outcome than having them remain in a Texas detention center. 

In addition to Philadelphia, asylum seekers have been sent north by governors of Arizona, Florida and Texas to New York City, Washington, Chicago and Martha’s Vineyard. The governors’ actions are a protest against President Joe Biden’s lack of a strategy to deal with the flood of immigrants crossing our southern border. 

Disbursing asylum seekers to a wide range of cities rather than having them remain in detention centers or funneling them into just a few cities is a much better outcome for all. 

Mayors of cities and governors of southern border states should actively coordinate this effort across the U.S. so families or friends can take ownership in absorbing them into their respective communities. This will lessen the burden on any one state or city, especially those along our southern border.

To those who say that by disbursing asylum seekers we lose track of them and are unable to ensure they appear for their court hearings, southern state governors are already disbursing them.

During the last 12 months, a record number of 2.3 million asylum seekers arrived at our southern border, a 37% increase from the prior year, overwhelming our ability to manage such massive numbers. This continues to be a failure of the Biden administration. One would think that Biden would place it high on his agenda. He has not done so.

Our southern border vetting problem is about to get worse. In March 2020, during the Trump administration and the early days of the Covid pandemic, the CDC invoked Title 42 of the Public Health Service Act. Title 42 protects the U.S. from the “introduction, transmission and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries.” It effectively reduced (but did not stop) the number of immigrants entering the U.S.

On Nov.15, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled against Title 42’s continued use. Expect a surge in southern border crossings. Protecting our southern border can no longer be ignored. We need to ensure that the system is in place for dealing with the millions of immigrants who want to enter the U.S.

Photo credit: Kirsten Luce/The New York Times

Some Americans have negative perceptions of immigrants. Their perceptions need to change.

Immigrants are important to American prosperity. Many immigrants are entrepreneurial, create jobs and pay taxes. They bring needed economic life and vitality to our inner cities—to areas long abandoned by factories and blue-collar residents. Immigrants build our homes, harvest our fruits and vegetables and babysit our children.

With a U.S. birth rate below replacement rate, immigrants are key to our ability to pay future Medicare and social security benefits to seniors. This is outlined in an August 2014 report published by The New American Economy Research Fund titled, “Staying covered: How immigrants have prolonged the solvency of one of Medicare’s key trust funds and subsidized care for U.S. seniors.”

Our political leaders need to lead their constituents to reframe their attitudes towards immigrants, and not use them to score political points. Not doing so harms our long-term economic prospects and standard of living. 

Biden needs to do his job and implement a strategy to defend our southern border. If he doesn’t act, we will continue to lose our ability to effectively vet and manage the number of immigrants who arrive at our southern border. This will continue to present many challenges in the years ahead.

Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership. He can be reached at

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