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House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Val Demings (D-FL) join ABIC and Immigration Reform Leaders to Mark Historic Committee Vote on Immigration Reform

Congressional Leaders Express Confidence That Proposals Will Qualify for Inclusion in Budget Reconciliation Bill


View recording here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxiHDyr9d3Y&t=369s

Washington, DC —  U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC), and members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday joined the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) and other immigration reform advocates on a press call marking the panel’s crucial approval of pathways to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers and essential workers in the Build Back Better reconciliation process.

The judiciary panel’s vote continues the forward march of the immigration measures in the budget scheduled for final votes in coming weeks, but the Senate Parliamentarian is currently weighing whether the immigration provisions qualify for consideration in the budget bill.

During the press call, Clyburn and U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee, said they were optimistic the parliamentarian would rule in favor of including the immigration measures in the budget package, as they would help boost the U.S. GDP, increase tax revenues to governments and provide several other economic benefits. Lofgren also noted immigration has previously been included in the budget bills, a factor being weighed by the Senate Parliamentarian. 

“This would not be the first time that immigration related measures have been included in a reconciliation package,” Lofgren said. “The question is, would these measures have an economic impact that is less than just incidental? Obviously that is the case. The package that we have that we acted on (in the House Judiciary Committee) is sound, it covers the bases that needed to be covered, and we are very hopeful that it will be accepted by the Senate Parliamentarian.”

Clyburn added: “You talk about $121 billion per year contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, that says to me that it qualifies for reconciliation. What we’re trying to do is make sure, as she said, that the economic impact is something beyond incidental. And that is way, way, beyond incidental. So I’m holding out hope that we will get this favorable decision from the parliamentarian.”

Other speakers on the press call included House Judiciary Committee members, Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), and Val Demings (D-FL), along with Mike Fernandez, Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners and ABIC Co-Chair; Angelica Salas, the Executive Director of CHIRLA – The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights; Teresa Romero, President, United Farm Workers; Frank Knapp, President and CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce; and Rebecca Shi, ABIC Executive Director.

Here are the highlighted quotes from their remarks:

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Member, House Judiciary Committee: We’ve got to get our economy back on track. We’ve done a great job so far with all of the packages that have sustained and helped people survive through the pandemic, but by building back better with immigrants, we are going to see them contribute an added $149 billion spending power every year. That would result in an additional $39 billion in combined federal, state and local taxes.… We are going to see our economy finally recover in a way that is inclusive and provides dignity to all. It truly is one of the best ways for us to rebuild our country. It is in our self interest that we do this.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), Member, House Judiciary Committee: “How long have we talked about repairing our broken immigration system in this nation of immigrants? The reforms we passed out of committee early this morning after 14 hours of debate are an investment in America, an investment in America’s future… Immigrants contribute $100 million to Florida’s economy. An analysis of the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act found that Florida’s economy would receive a boost of $12.2 billion. Our current plan would do even more. Dreamers, TPS holders and essential workers matter. One in four working Floridians are born in another country. Florida has more residents on agricultural visas than any other state… Immigrants are our first responders, our essential workers, those who are there when we need them the most. They’re our small business owners – that diner, that market, that coffee shop– that we just can’t do without. Immigrants are our veterans, protecting and defending our great nation, and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice….. We’ll be continuing to vote yes to growing our economy. I’ll be voting yes to the prosperity of our nation. I’ll be voting yes to investing in America’s future.”

Mike Fernandez, Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners and ABIC Co-Chair: “Last week 50 leading economists reported that legalizing the 11 million  would grow U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion, raise the annual wages of all workers by $600, and create more than 400,000 new jobs over the next decade. I personally know this to be true. (Sens.) Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz know this to be true. Because you see I was born in Cuba and came here as an undocumented immigrant. Cubans have benefited from the most generous immigration policies and we’ve used this generosity to build an economic powerhouse in South Florida, Mexicans will do the same, so will Venezuelans, Haitians and Hondurans.”

Angelica Salas, the Executive Director of CHIRLA – The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, who introduced Rep. Lofgren: “We are on the cusp of winning permanent residency that opens the path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living and contributing to this nation, their home.  We would have not reached this point without Congress member Zoe Lofgren’s tenacious and expert leadership. She is one of the only members of Congress who actually studied, practiced and taught immigration law…..She knows better than any one that including access to green cards in budget reconciliation can be done and has been done throughout our recent history and it was supported by Republicans.  She masterfully managed yesterday’s markup hearing and moved us one step forward towards building back our country better, fully inclusive of the immigrants who sacrificed life and health to keep this nation moving forward during this tragic pandemic.” 

Teresa Romero, President, United Farm Workers: “As the nation went into lockdown and many Americans sheltered in place and performed remote work, farm workers – officially classified as essential by federal, state and local governments – showed up to work. Under the deadly pandemic and as life-threatening heat waves and toxic wildfire smoke kept the public indoors and in climate-controlled spaces, farmworkers continued to show up for work. They are the first responders who safeguard the harvest, a job they perform with the utmost urgency and dignity to feed their loved ones and sustain the nation’s food security. Many struggle with the irony of the essential worker designation, wondering how they could be essential yet be subject to removal from this country and ineligible for support during this pandemic, even though they’re low-wage, essential workers. Farmworkers fed us and during the pandemic, did not ask if they were harvesting for Democrats or Republicans. They feed us all….They deserve the opportunity to apply for legal status.”

Frank Knapp, President and CEO and Co-Founder of South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce: “All we hear about today from small business is the labor shortage. How much worse will our labor shortage be if we deport all the Dreamers, including 800,000 DACA recipients, every one of whom has a job or is in school.  Losing our 400,000 Temporary Protected Status immigrants to deportation or leaving the country voluntarily would be an economic disaster.  Both scenarios will reduce consumer spending, hurt small businesses, and decrease federal revenue. One way or another, the issue of immigration reform belongs in the budget reconciliation legislation.  If we don’t have the proposed reforms, the nation’s labor problems will get worse.  Federal revenues will go down and federal programs to address the problem will cost more.”

Rebecca Shi, Executive Director American Business Immigration Coalition “As a bipartisan coalition of employers facing acute labor shortages, we strongly prefer bipartisan solutions. But bipartisan solutions mean that Republicans need to show up and play ball. Instead, they continue the politics of scapegoating immigrants instead of solutions that have widely bipartisan support… This morning a new poll commissioned by the American Business Immigration Coalition and Venezuealan Alliance found that almost half of Venezuelan Americans in Florida say they will not support Rubio and Scott if they don’t back permanent legal status. It is a wake up call to Senator Scott and Senator Rubio in particular, that a key constituency that they count on for their election could be lost. The poll is a wake-up call to republicans in general that swing states like Florida and their electoral future could be jeopardized by their head-in-the-sand attitude.”

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.

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