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ABIC Executive Director Rebecca Shi to U.S. Senate Parliamentarian: Immigration Solutions Belong in Reconciliation

By September 9, 2021No Comments

ABIC Executive Director Rebecca Shi to U.S. Senate Parliamentarian: Immigration Solutions Belong in Reconciliation 

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the news of Friday’s meeting where Senate Democrats will make the case to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, farm workers, TPS-holders and essential immigrant workers, ABIC executive director Rebecca Shi issued the following statement:

“Immigration reform is urgent, bipartisan and belongs in the budget reconciliation. The parliamentarian must rule accordingly based on economic impact, boost to the federal treasury and precedent. The rules clearly state reconciliation can be used for measures that impact federal spending, revenues, and the federal debt limit. Immigration fits right in.” 

Immigrants and employers who depend on them deserve legislation that would bring certainty to their lives and businesses after years of existing in legal limbo. This is not only morally right, it is vital for our economy. There is an undeniable economic need for these immigration provisions.

Why Immigration Reform belongs in Reconciliation 

The economic benefits for all Americans that would result from legalizing the status of millions of workers come in the form of increased spending, tax revenues, and job creation. The increased federal tax revenues alone should qualify immigration measures for inclusion in the reconciliation package.

  • Immigrants paid $458.7 billion in state, local, and federal taxes in 2018 alone.
  • The U.S. economy would grow by $121 billion annually if Dreamers, TPS holders, farmworkers, and undocumented essential workers were to earn legalization and become U.S. citizens, “including multi-billion expansions in a dozen state economies, and boosting federal, state, and local tax revenue by $31 billion annually,” according to a recent analysis.  (Numerous economic studies have echoed the findings here and here.)
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has long recognized the economic benefits to the U.S. economy and to federal deficit reduction if undocumented immigrants had access to legalization and citizenship. During the 2013 debate of S744, which was voted out of the Senate with 68 votes, the CBO estimated that the measure, if enacted, would have decreased federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014–2023 period and by roughly $700 billion over the 2024–2033 period.
  • Legalization addresses acute labor shortage across sectors: Our economy has 10.1M job openings. 3.1M job openings in the South alone. Providing a path to permanence for undocumented immigrants already contributing will unleash their economic potential, and ease our nation’s acute labor shortage. 

Reconciliation may be the last chance to do what the American people want and what our economy needs, for months, and perhaps years to come. If we fail to pass these immigration solutions now, we are at risk of losing 800,000 DACA recipients, 400,000 TPS recipients, and billions of dollars in economic and tax revenue contributions that are necessary to grow our economy.

Immigration has previously been included in reconciliation. Immigration has previously been included in budget and appropriations bills at least FIVE times, by both parties, including:

  • Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996: Created new restrictions on immigration; Republicans controlled both Chambers.
  • Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1999: Legalized eligible undocumented Haitians; Republicans controlled both Chambers.
  • Legal Immigration Family Equity Act: Created an easier path to residency for some immediate family and employment based residents: Republicans controlled both Chambers.
  • Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1998: Legalized eligible undocumented Central Americans and Eastern Europeans; Republicans controlled both Chambers.
  • Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2019: Legalize eligible Liberians who had TPS/DED long-term; Democrats controlled the House, Republicans controlled the Senate.

Immigration reform is urgent, bipartisan and belongs in budget reconciliation. 

We have waited for decades for immigration solutions and Congress has failed to act to protect the security of our economy and our families. Inaction in 2021 is unacceptable. The time to act is now. There is bipartisan support for immigration reform. 40+ House Republicans and every House Democrat voted for the Dream and Promise (HR 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act; 21 Republican business leaders recently sent a letter to President Biden and congressional leaders urging that the immigration solutions be included in the upcoming budget reconciliation vote because of the urgency created by the labor shortage. 

Voters across the political spectrum support creating a pathway  to citizenship for undocumented immigrants New polling from Data for Progress finds that 67% of Americans across party lines support the green card/citizenship proposals of Democrats’ budget package, with intensity strongly favoring the pro-immigrant respondents. Another poll found that 70% of Americans support fixing our immigration system. – 

The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens. ABIC is active in key states and communities across the country engaging activists, advocates, business leaders and elected officials on the urgency of passing immigration reform that boosts our economy, creates jobs, eases the labor shortage and supports families.