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Wisconsinite Called for Work Permits for Long-Term Immigrant Contributors on Capitol Hill

Watch Durbin economic briefing and García press conference; download photos

WASHINGTONMegan, a member of American Families United, traveled from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. on April 16-17 for a briefing on Capitol Hill, calling on 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 her about her experiences, contact

On Tuesday, she participated in an economic briefing hosted by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (R-IL), with U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA). On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) held a press conference at the House Triangle to make the case for work permits for all, alongside other business, labor, community and family leaders. He 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 United States 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.

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.

Megan, a U.S. citizen from Wisconsin and a member of American Families United, with husband for 20 years; parents of two children, said, “My husband has worked in multiple industries. Despite this, my family can be separated or I can be forced to leave my country just like thousands of other U.S. citizens. These are the immigration policies that are actually hurting U.S. citizens and 6,000 Wisconsinites are in the same situation as me. Frankly, I am shocked that President Biden hasn’t taken the issue of family separation of U.S. citizens seriously. He has the authority to act and provide our spouses with work permits and protection from separation.”

“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 Wisonsin’s economy and communities. Key facts:

In addition to Wisconsin, 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.