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

Watch Durbin economic briefing and García press conference; download photos

WASHINGTON – Irayda Flores, president and CEO of El Mar de Cortez Corp. and Everk Sanchez, member of American Families United, both from Phoenix, traveled to Washington, D.C. on April 16-17 for a briefing on Capitol Hill. With other family and business leaders, they called on the Biden administration to extend work permits to long-term residents of American families and communities. To interview them about their experiences, contact

On Tuesday, they 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. 

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

Irayda Flores, president and CEO, El Mar de Cortez Corp. 

“I have created many jobs right here in this country. I am a living, breathing example of the American Dream and the potential immigrants have for our communities and economy. But there are many more stories like mine. We should be granting work permits to immigrants  — not considering harmful, offensive legislation that will force immigrant workers to live in fear.”

Irayda Flores is an immigrant entrepreneur from Mexico who obtained her green card just last year after her own lengthy struggle. She also founded the first Latino Rotary Club in Arizona. Irayda lives in Phoenix and will be in Washington, D.C. on April 15-16. She speaks English, and Spanish.

Everk Sanchez, a member of American Families United. He calls Rose, his wife, “an amazing mother of five beautiful girls” pursuing their passions in  archery and more. Everk and Rose’s second-oldest daughter, a childhood cancer survivor, played at the 2024 White House Easter Egg Roll with her school’s Mariachi band. Everk is a U.S. citizen, DJ and nonprofit leader in Phoenix. Because his wife has DACA, he writes, “I am scared and worried that I might not be able to make a promise to my family, that their mother will be with us in this country.”

“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 fifteen 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 Arizona’s economy and communities. Key facts:

In addition to Arizona, 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.