News & Politics

Jill Biden stops in Allentown with U.S. Rep. Wild, Congressional Hispanic Caucus

The event marked the 11th stop of the caucus’s “CHC On The Road” tour.

First Lady Jill Biden

First Lady Jill Biden Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

First Lady Jill Biden joined U.S. Rep. Susan Wild and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Allentown on Tuesday as part of a nationwide tour aimed at informing Latino communities about the work of Congress and the Biden administration.

In addition to Biden, Wild, who represents Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, was joined by U.S. Reps. Nanette Barragán and Nydia Velázquez; all participated in a roundtable discussion spotlighting the Biden administration’s efforts to connect students with careers. 

During remarks before the roundtable discussion, Biden highlighted a recent executive order signed by her husband that seeks to make it easier for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients and dreamers to obtain visas, saying, “When Latino communities are strong, our country is strong.”

First Lady Jill Biden speaks at a roundtable event in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Photo credit: Justin Sweitzer

“We’re here to talk about education and the pathways to good-paying jobs because that’s how we grow the middle class,” Biden added. “It’s how we grow Latino economic power so that everyone has a place at the table.”

Wild said the opportunity to hear from community members about issues affecting Latino communities will help policymakers in Washington, D.C. as they look for solutions to issues such as access to higher education and workforce development programs.

“As lawmakers, our work is literally informed by conversations that we have at home in our districts with constituents. That’s how we know what the problem areas are, what concerns people have, what needs they have,” she said.

The roundtable discussion, held at Lehigh Carbon Community College’s Allentown campus, also included input from Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, President Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, Lehigh Carbon Community College President Ann Bieber and local health care workers. 

Bieber, speaking about the college’s partnership with the Allentown School District, said students are able to take early dual enrollment courses for college credit while still in high school.

“Our goal is to make sure that every student leaves high school when they graduate with either a career education or a training pathway,” Bieber said. “The programs are all accessible because … the courses are taken during the day. So it’s during the school day, it’s free – no cost to the students, because the Allentown School District is funding it for them.”

The visit to Allentown – a city with a majority Hispanic population – also included a separate event highlighting the Allentown Health Bureau’s work on maternal and child health. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s stop in Allentown is its 11th visit to Latino population centers since launching the tour, according to a release.

Both events offered an opportunity for local leaders to share their top priorities with members of Congress. 

Tuerk said improving Allentown’s transportation network and increasing access to affordable child care are two of the biggest issues important to Allentown constituents, particularly its Latino residents, noting that investing in child care access can have a positive effect on economic growth. 

Tanden described child care as a “crucial, crucial issue to workers,” and touted the Biden administration’s proposed budget investments, which includes a $500 million increase in Child Care and Development Block Grant funding.

Wild said that she foresees child care being a major issue that lawmakers will need to address sooner rather than later.

“I think child care is the next big issue to be tackled,” she said. 

Biden, who has been under increasing scrutiny regarding her role in her husband’s reelection campaign following his performance in last week’s debate with former President Donald Trump, did not make herself available to answer questions about the president and the campaign.