MATTHEWS – U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (N.C.-09) touched base with the Matthews Board of Commissioners during its May 10 meeting. His district stretches from Hoke and Robeson counties to Union and the bottom edge of Mecklenburg.
"One thing I think will be of interest to you," Bishop started, "is of course the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and the Biden administration – a piece of legislation that didn't have a lot of uniformity, but provided $350 billion in new funding for state and local governments, and $130 billion for local governments, counties, cities and smaller local governments."
According to Bishop, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform estimated a $9.7-million allocation for Matthews.
Another hot topic for Bishop is immigration.
"We have a fairly significant crisis at our southwestern border," Bishop said. "We have folks – unaccompanied minors and family units with very small children – who are coming into the country under federal law in fairly large numbers."
The representative cited March's 20-year record monthly high of 172,000 apprehensions. Since commissioners' meeting with Bishop, U.S. Customs and Border Protections has reported a new 21-year record of 178,000 apprehensions for April.
"Those kids are being sent into the country," Bishop said. "It's the same for families with small children. They are being put on buses or aircrafts and going to places in the United States. You may see impacts on your community services, as well as folks who really in most cases are not able to read, write or speak English coming into communities across our state."
Bishop connected increased immigration to increased drug-related crimes, claiming that major and subsidiary hubs in Atlanta and Charlotte for Mexican cartels present a danger to community safety.
"I am doing everything I can to prevail on the Biden administration… A lot of the effort so far has been building the capacity for bringing people in, and many of us are imploring the Biden administration to work hard on methods to reduce the flow."
Bishop also took the opportunity to comment on president Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan, a slated $2.25-trillion infrastructure bill with a scope too wide for Bishop's taste.
"Well, it's called an infrastructure bill," said Bishop, who admitted many Americans would be happy to see federal expenditure on infrastructure. "The problem with plans that have been talked about so far from my perspective is that 93% of the spending is on things other than what we typically regard as infrastructure."
Winning the special election in 2019 meant Bishop had his work cut out for him setting up the office.
"When I jumped in in September, we didn't have any staff in place," Bishop said. "We had constituent needs that needed to be addressed, so we hastened and got [it] taken care of. But as I entered my first full term this year, we were working to reorient our district office."
Now Bishop said he and his updated staff, including district director Liz Driver and field representative Caroline Winchester, are ready to serve the district.
"They are spending as much of their time as possible out in the community," Bishop said, "so whenever we can be of assistance – you guys would like to have somebody from our office or someone in your community for an event – we are gonna be on the lookout for those and active about doing that."