Thanksgiving holiday to focus on immigrants and US troops, Joe Biden declares

US vice-president shares video of trip to firehouse in Biden’s hometown of Scranton to thank firefighters

Former US vice-president Joe Biden has placed Thanksgiving Day in his home state of Pennsylvania firmly in the hands of immigrants and the nation’s defence forces.

An official proclamation, shared on social media Tuesday, quotes Biden telling firefighters that “in communities across America the great men and women of our fire departments and police forces put their lives on the line every day to protect and save our families and communities”.

Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) In a last minute attempt to sway the [US Senate’s] critical immigration vote tomorrow, @JoeBiden released a touching #Thanksgiving2018 proclamation. The VP placed Thanksgiving Day squarely in the sights of undocumented immigrants #baseballpic

In a move likely designed to move wavering Democrats in the state who are undecided on the Dream Act, the document also pays tribute to the contributions of troops and those who “take the ultimate risk to protect us”.

“The deepest gratitude I extend to these service members and their families for the sacrifices they make for our freedom as a nation,” Biden says in the document.

In the video released Tuesday, Biden travels to a firehouse in his hometown of Scranton to thank some of the city’s roughly 700 firefighters, flanked by two uniformed emergency responder members and five fire engine crews. “When you see our fire departments, you always see hundreds of guys with t-shirts on,” Biden tells the crowd, pointing to a green and white department siren and ribbons hanging from the white tape that spells out the word Scranton.

“The first ones that go out will have you smiling,” he says. “All these guys are there to go get the job done. And, the second ones will have you smiling and not by misusing department funds. The third ones won’t let you down because they really know they’re going to keep people safe. And the fourth ones, if you’re fortunate enough to work in the business sector, I want you to understand what I’m telling you, you’re like the fourth ones. You’ll have a distinguished life, but if something happens, nothing will get in the way of what you do.”

The oped is one of several remarks Biden has made in recent weeks on the dire state of America’s border security, along with a speech made in Kentucky to the US military command he commanded during the 2008-2009 operation “Rendition” in which more than 50 terrorism suspects were rendered from Afghanistan to CIA torture centres in Central Asia.

A US navy drone lands as Biden sees him off in North Carolina last week. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The newspaper editorial board for the Scranton Times-Tribune editorialized on Monday that the blizzard of government news weighed heavily on its staff, but wondered if journalists might be asking too much of a former vice-president of the United States “who has turned out to be a masterful fundraiser”.

“Where does Mr Biden’s current public appetite for an enduring role in the public debate stand?” the paper wrote. “Mr Biden may have been ready to shake hands and check in last Friday in Scranton, but he obviously isn’t yet ready to judge the presidential candidacies of the likely Democratic field.”

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