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Maryland State Delegate Ashanti Martinez and Maria Rodriguez (CASA) Advocated for Mixed-Citizenship Families on Capitol Hill

By April 25, 2024April 26th, 2024No Comments

Maryland State Delegate Ashanti Martinez and Maria Rodriguez (CASA) Advocated for Mixed-Citizenship Families on Capitol Hill

Watch Durbin economic briefing and García press conference; download photos

WASHINGTON – In D.C. last week, Maryland State Delegate Ashanti Martinez, chair of the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus; and Maria Rodriguez, a CASA member and a Baltimore construction worker, advocated for the Biden administration to extend work permits to immigrants who are long-term members of American families and residents of U.S. communities. To interview Delegate Martinez and Maria Rodriguez, contact Jossie at To interview Johanna Ihegihu, contact

On Tuesday, Johanna participated in an economic briefing hosted by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (R-IL), with U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA). On Wednesday, Delegate Martinez and Ms. Rodriguez spoke alongside U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) at a press conference making the case for work permits for all, alongside business, labor, community and family leaders. Congressman García and U.S. Representatives Correa (D-CA) and Espaillat (D-NY) also sent a letter to the Biden administration accelerating this call to act.

The New York Times reported on the growing frustration among families of mixed immigration status and employers across the country, who want President Biden to extend work permits to immigrants who have been living in and contributing to this country for years. The Wall Street Journal reported on the campaign by U.S. citizens seeking work permits for their non-citizen spouses and other long-term residents to stabilize the workforce, grow the economy and keep families together.

Watch the economic briefing and Congressman Garcia’s press event; access photos from both days in Washington, D.C.

Maryland State Delegate Ashanti Martinez is chair of the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus. He stated: “My first day as chair of Latino caucus was the day after the tragedy at the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Six immigrant workers were killed doing exactly the hard, dangerous jobs that this country depends on to function every single day. They are the latest, tragic reminder of the sacrifices immigrants have made for years, even decades, many of them without any path to the security and stability of a work permit. Immigrants who have been contributing to this nation have waited too long. President Biden, you have the power to act. These are our family, neighbors, friends, colleagues. Our communities are sick to death of waiting, and waiting and waiting for action from our leaders to benefit the very people who are growing our economy every day. They deserve this protection and our country will be better for it.”

“I am a single mother to two beautiful children who depend on me as the head of the household. As an essential worker, I have had several injuries from my workplace,” said CASA member Maria Rodriguez and a Baltimore construction worker. “Because I have no work permit, I do construction types of jobs. I complete my job with a lot of pride, but I fear something might happen to me and my children will be alone here in this country without me.”

“Today, there are an estimated 1.1 million U.S. citizens married to an undocumented immigrant. Our laws are supposed to provide U.S. citizens an opportunity to sponsor their noncitizen family members, but our outdated immigration system includes many categorical bars that prevent spouses from obtaining status. These families live in fear that their loved ones may be deported at any time,” said U.S. Sen. Durbin. “These immigrants already pay taxes and work in our communities. If they were given a path to citizenship, it would bring stability to their families—and they would pay an additional $5 billion dollars in taxes.”

Durbin continued, “It’s time for our Republican colleagues in Congress to set aside extremist rhetoric and come to work with us on solutions. But American families need solutions now. That is why I led a letter with 18 of my colleagues to President Biden asking him to provide the spouses of U.S. citizens with a work permit. It is only a temporary solution—ultimately Congress needs to act. But it is essential that we do everything possible in the meantime to allow these families to live free of fear of deportation and stay together.”
“I’ve heard from employers across my district. They need workers, and they want to hire the ‘right way’. I’ve heard from my constituents who have been waiting for too long to get work permits,” said U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. “Our message to the President is clear. It’s past time we provide immigrants, who’ve already been doing the work and keeping our country running, with the work permits they deserve. Jobs not only create opportunities for immigrant families, but also bring stability to entire communities. We are stronger because of immigrants, not despite them. Expanding access to them is a matter of economic justice.”

U.S. Senators Durbin, Rosen, Warnock, Fetterman and 15 other senators recently sent a letter to President Biden asking him to “protect and unify American families” and “provide much needed relief for undocumented immigrants and the American businesses, families, and communities that rely upon them.” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson; Iris Ramos Jones, Director of the Nevada Office for New Americans (appointed by Gov. Lombardo); more than 80 Members of Congress; and hundreds of leaders representing U.S business, labor, local government, faith, civil rights and family voices have been calling for this commonsense policy change for years.

On April 5, U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged the call to action. The proposal is legally sound, politically smart and requires only discreet updates to the existing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy manual to expand work permits to nuclear relatives of United States citizens.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we have 9.5 million job openings in the U.S., but only 6.5 million unemployed workers. Even if unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have nearly 2.4 million vacancies. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office attributes a $7 trillion increase to the national GDP to immigration. While mixed-status families already contribute billions in federal, state and local taxes, a FWD.US estimate finds that permitting undocumented spouses to work legally would increase their tax contributions by $5 billion.

Immigrants make vital contributions to Maryland’s economy and communities. Key facts:

Maryland only has 33 available workers for every 100 open jobs.
71 percent of unauthorized immigrants in Maryland are employed, primarily in construction, waste management, food services and retail industries.
Maryland immigrants comprise 15.7 percent of the population and make up one-fifth of Maryland’s labor force, contributing to the economy.
Maryland immigrants wield $33.1 billion in spending power and pay $13.3 billion in taxes.
87.2 percent of Maryland’s undocumented immigrants are working age and unable to legally work. They pay $607.2 million in federal, state and local taxes and harness $4.4 billion in spending power.
Eight percent of Maryland’s U.S. citizens live with at least one undocumented person, comprising mixed-status families. Nine percent of Maryland’s U.S.-citizen children (less than 18-years-old) live with at least one undocumented person.
92.5 percent of Maryland’s DACA-eligible population is employed, contributing $57.1 million in taxes and wielding $208.4 million in spending power.

In addition to Maryland, the U.S. economy depends upon a foreign-born labor force to alleviate national labor shortages, reduce inflation and grow by $7 trillion more over the next decade. Immigrants in the U.S. have a combined household income of $2.1 trillion and contribute $382.9 billion to federal taxes and $196.3 billion in state and local taxes, leaving them with $1.6 trillion in spending power.


American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) is a bipartisan coalition of over 1,400+ CEOs, business owners, and trade associations across 17 mostly red and purple states. 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.