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PA Latino Caucus Chair Burgos, Black Caucus Chair Nelson, Philadelphia City Council Member At-Large Nina Ahmad, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Local Leaders Call on President Biden to Extend Work Permits to Long-Term Immigrants


Black and Latino Elected Officials Call on President Biden To Take Executive Action Now as Biden and Harris Campaign in PA

PHILADELPHIA — Today, as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaign in the commonwealth, the American Business Immigration Coalition hosted a press conference urging President Biden to grant legal work permits to long-term immigrants, including undocumented spouses and immediate family of United States citizens, Dreamers ineligible for DACA and long-term workers without a path to legal status. Speakers included Latino elected officials, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, advocates, business leaders and directly impacted voices from across Pennsylvania, urging President Biden to extend work permits for long-term immigrants who have been working and paying taxes for years, even decades.


Pennsylvania State Rep. Danilo Burgos (D-Philadelphia) and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Latino Caucus was among the speakers at the conference. Rep. Burgos and more than 140 local and state Latino elected officials from 21 U.S. states and territories, signed a letter in support of extending work permits to these groups. The policy is estimated to increase annual tax revenue by $13.8 billion while shielding immigrants from exploitation and advancing a strong workforce that matches worker skills to employers’ needs. View the full letter here.


Here’s what the speakers had to say:


Pennsylvania State Rep. Danilo Burgos (D-Philadelphia), Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Caucus and a member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators:

“There is a massive labor shortage in every industry and in every state. We need to expand access to work permits and protect the workers we already have. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that if every person on unemployment got a job today, there would still be millions of open jobs. There are simply not enough people to fill our labor needs.


“It is time that we deliver for working-class communities. That would benefit not just just working class families, it would benefit all Pennsylvanians and Americans because it will increase our tax base and strengthen our economy.”


Pennsylvania State Rep. Napoleon Nelson (D-Montgomery County) and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus:

“This is an important moment for us to make sure that we not only represent and recognize everyone’s humanity, but we do so the way that it allows folks the dignity of work, allows our communities the opportunity to grow, thrive and prosper. Also, it ensures that the nation we build going forward, is able to see everyone, which current policies don’t allow.

“We have a president who ‘gets’ our community. We have a president who gets it . . . Now he needs to act.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia): 

“When somebody is working somewhere and working in these tough industries. This is ripe for folks to be exploited.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Joseph Hohenstein (D-Philadelphia):

“We can provide some degree of dignity to people who have been here for so long without it.”

Philadelphia City Council Member At-Large Nina Ahmad, Ph.D, and Former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor:

Pennsylvania is home to more than 173,000 undocumented immigrants, including 63,000 living in a mixed-status household where a family member is a U.S citizen. Locally, undocumented immigrants make up 18.3 percent of the immigrant population and contribute $196.3 million in state and local taxes.

“I know firsthand how important it is to protect the family unit and keep it intact as you embark on these new lives. When we look out here, in many cases, family is the only thing they have, the only thing sustaining them. Hope lives with anyone’s family and hope must be preserved at all cost. I remember doing that: it was me and my husband and then our children and it was very hard to know who to trust, or what to do. It is critical that we expand that circle of trust and, if we can make push for this agenda and get work permits, this will increase that circle of trust so we can operate like everybody else in this country.”

Allyson Batista, Board Member of American Families United (featured in The Wall Street Journal: Biden Weighs Giving Legal Status to Immigrant Spouses of U.S. Citizens):

“I am a fourth-generation U.S. citizen and Pennsylvanian, born in Reading and raised in Wyomissing, its sleepy suburb, both located in Berks County. My Eastern European great-grandparents immigrated to Hazleton, a small coal mining town in central Pennsylvania, in search of a better life, not any different than immigrants today over 100 years later. My husband, my children’s father, is a Brazilian national who faces significant obstacles towards a path to legal status, despite our 20-year marriage. Initially, I believed our legal union would be an easy fix to the problems he faced, but every legal opinion since 2003 has come down to two options: we can either leave the U,S, for a minimum of 10 years, with only a chance of return or stay here in the shadows and cross our fingers the law is going to change. An impossible choice to make as a mother, wife and U.S. citizen; we chose the latter but it’s been over 20 years with no legislative fix for us in sight. We are increasingly exhausted by the empty promises of this administration. President Biden — YOU have the authority to take steps that will be transformative for all of us. As you visit our City today, I pray that you hear our voices and our call to action.”

Patty Torres, Co-Deputy State Director, Make the Road PA:

“We know that Pennsylvania is absolutely critical in this year’s presidential election and we know President Biden is counting on us to turn out the vote. Today, as President Joe Biden campaigns once again in Philadelphia, we are urging him to use his executive power to expand work permits.

“Sixty-three percent of undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania are employed, primarily in waste management, food services, construction, manufacturing and health services industries. All these hard-working individuals and members of our communities deserve the dignity and opportunity of a work permit.

“Our communities want to support a candidate who has done everything he can to keep our families together including providing much needed relief to multi-immigration status families.” 

Luis Ortiz Juarez, impacted Dreamer ineligible for DACA:

“I am proud to have a degree from the University of Pennsylvania. But you know as well as I do that without a work permit, my degree will not allow me to pursue my new passions for veterinary medicine and social work. 

These Pennsylvania U.S. citizens and the Pennsylvania Latine community are all looking to you to be a leader and extend work permits to all long-term immigrants so that we can pursue our American Dreams. You will be revitalizing the economy, protecting families and solidifying communities. What will your move be, President Joe Biden?”

Maria, CASA:

“As a tireless worker in this country, and also as a taxpayer, it is time for the administration to raise awareness that we need a work permit, to get us out of the shadows. Today, I am here to ask President Biden to ensure a work permit for all of us immigrants. Mr. Biden, it is time for dignity and peace of mind.”

Delfina, Make the Road PA:

“I was born in Mexico, I have lived in this country since 2002 and my husband has lived here since 1985. He got his permanent residency through amnesty at that time, qualified through his work, then he became an American citizen eight years ago and made my petition to immigration seven years ago.” 

“My husband is sick and I am the one who takes care of him. It would be very painful and difficult for our family if they separate us, even if it’s temporarily. President Biden, we ask you to give us work permits, to help the long-term immigrants who need a work permit here, like myself. Mexico has very high crime and many economic needs, and for us this is, and will always be, our home. Gracias.”


Here are some key facts about how immigrants make vital contributions to Pennsylvania’s economy and communities:


In addition to Pennsylvania, 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 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.