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North Texas U.S. Reps. Johnson, Allred, Veasey, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas Business Leaders, DACA & TPS Entrepreneurs Push for Bipartisan Immigration Solutions to Meet Critical Labor Shortages and Other Needs
ABIC news conference underscores need to include popular immigration proposals in budget reconciliation process; call for congressional action comes day after ABIC national battleground poll released showing 3-to-1 support for action through budget bill, even if only pushed by one party.
DALLAS, TX — North Texas members of Congress, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, business leaders and DACA and TPS permit holders joined forces on Thursday to reinforce their push for enactment of immigration solutions this year, including in the pending budget reconciliation bill, calling the proposals bipartisan, widely popular with voters, and urgent for the region and national economies.
During the news conference sponsored by the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), the collective message called for proposals that would include pathways to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, essential workers and farmer workers, noting added sense of urgency after the Senate Parliamentarian ruled immigration out of order for consideration in the budget bill. However, advocates are urging Congress to come up with alternatives to ensure passage this year.
“This is the year for immigration reform. It is urgent. It should be bipartisan. It belongs in budget reconciliation. Immigration reform would address our region’s labor shortages. It would create jobs. It would grow our economy,” said Chris Wallace, CEO, North Texas Commission. “Together, with the overwhelming majority of Texans, we look forward to working with the members of our north Texas Congressional delegation. We need our delegation to help lead the way to make sure immigration reform is included in budget reconciliation. Now is the time to act.”
A new national battleground poll commissioned by ABIC showed 3-to-1 support for action through the budget reconciliation bill, even if led by one party.
“Voters from both parties want solutions. Even Trump Voters support an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” said Texas Immigration Business Immigration Coalition Director Juan Carlos Cerda. “Democrats can and need to be courageous. Republicans need to stop being paralysed by a minority of their voters. Passing immigration reform right now makes moral, economic and political sense.”
Business and community leaders said that the proposals also enjoy bipartisan support and would help meet current business needs.
Judge Jenkins noted that even though there are more people working in Dallas County now than before the pandemic, the unemployment rate is higher because businesses cannot find enough workers to fill job openings, a fact that hurts the entire economy.
“We have 65,000 jobs that are unfilled. We have people still looking for work, struggling and hurting out there to fill those jobs. We need immigration reform to keep our economy going, to help fill jobs, to help bring people out of the shadows so that they can get the training to fill those jobs,” Jenkins said. “Forgetting for a moment the suffering of the families that we basically abuse and exploit by purposely keeping them in the shadows and depressing their wages, it’s hurting all of us. It’s hurting people who are blue collar workers, it’s hurting our businesses, it’s hurting our economy, it’s hurting your pocket book. So, please pass immigration reform,” Jenkins added.
“The parliamentarian’s rule preventing a path to citizenship to up to eight million undocumented immigrants from being included in the reconciliation is certainly an obstacle, but it is not the end of the road. We can still take action,” said U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30). “I remain committed to working with President Biden and all of our colleagues in Congress to find common sense solutions to our immigration problems.”
One option would use a “registry,” that would allow people who have lived here for many years to come forward, pass background checks, and start on a path to citizenship.
“Immigration reform is urgent, bipartisan and belongs in the budget reconciliation,” agreed U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX-33). “The Parliamentarian’s ruling last Sunday is only one step in the process to determine whether immigration workers can get a path to legal status in the budget reconciliation deal. While it was a disheartening decision, our fight is just beginning. My congressional colleagues and I will continue to advocate for all options to make legalization a reality, including by updating the immigration registry.”
U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX-32) said, “Too often, politicians in Washington have sought to use the issue of immigration to divide us instead of uniting us around the comprehensive reforms that we know we need and that ultimately, I think, understand have to happen. Immigration reform is urgent and it’s bipartisan. And although the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled against including immigration reform in the Build Back Better Act, I promise you that I am going to continue to advocate for all options and to work with anyone to make comprehensive immigration reform a reality….There’s bipartisan support for this in Texas, and I’ll keep working to get this done.”
“It makes no sense to me to sustain barriers that would keep a Dreamer from getting a world class education at the University of Texas at Dallas and then to further impede their ability to contribute to the local economy after graduation,” said University of Texas Dallas President Richard Benson. “I support any federal congressional solution that will allow Texas dreamers to continue working and contributing because it will strengthen our state, grow our workforce and provide peace of mind to the families, employers and university communities like UTDs.”
Alberto Garcia, a DACA recipient who graduated from college and owns a uniform business, noted the limitations of owning a business as a DACA permit holder. “The DACA program is temporary and was ruled illegal by a federal court this year. Our undocumented status also prevents us from growing our business, as DACA business owners, and a pathway to legal status would allow us to gain resources — to be able to obtain SBA business resources that right now are only available to citizens — and allow us to do business with public schools and government agencies and achieve our dreams of being fully part of the U.S. That’s why I’m asking Congress and President Biden to ensure a path to legal status is included in budget reconciliation and use of every option at their disposal to make sure immigration reform happens this year,” Garcia said.
Delmy Gomez, a TPS recipient and cafeteria worker, said that having permanent status would expand her employment opportunities and remove the fear of potential deportation. “The next president could take away or end TPS and cancel my work permit and deport me. I cannot imagine leaving my children…other TPS holders like me dream of having permanent legal residency.”
Regina Montoya, CEO, Regina T. Montoya, PLLC, and a member of the Clinton Administration said, “My grandparents were immigrants from Mexico and came to the U.S. with only a third grade education. We lived with my Spanish-speaking family members, and my first language is Spanish. I support immigration reform, not only because of my family, but also because I have come to know many immigrants, including Dreamers, who have contributed to the economic success of our country, have made it the place that it is right now.”
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.