Economists and Small Businesses Urge Immigration In Reconciliation
Rep. “Chuy” García (D-IL-4) Joins Economists, Immigrant Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, and Chamber Leaders to Make Economic Case for Citizenship Ahead of Friday Parliamentarian “Byrd Bath”
Participants urged Congress to include paths to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, essential workers, and farmworkers in the budget reconciliation bill and called attention to the critical role immigrants play in our nation’s small businesses.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) joined economists, immigrant small business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders of chambers of commerce to participate in a virtual Summit, “Economists and Small Businesses Urge Immigration in Reconciliation.”
The event occurred hours before Democrats will make the case to include a path to citizenship in budget reconciliation. On Monday, September 13th, the House Judiciary Committee will begin marking up the legislative text of the $107 billion allocated in the budget resolution for a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers.
“This summer, I promised to vote against any budget reconciliation package that does not include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. And, since then, I’ve been encouraged to see more members joining and taking a strong stance in both chambers and of course, especially, President Biden who reaffirmed his support for immigration in budget reconciliation… We are firm in our position,” said Rep. Garcia, adding “Every day I experience the incredible contributions that immigrants make to our economy. My neighborhood is living proof that we need a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation bill. My position is firm: no immigration reform, no vote. The Democratic leadership cannot lose more than three votes, so let’s raise the stakes. I look forward to working together to make our case and ensure that we get the best outcomes for immigrant and mixed-status families.”
At this event, convened by the American Business Immigration Coalition, participants called on Congress to pass common sense immigration solutions offering a path to citizenship for essential workers, Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farmworkers through the reconciliation process given the Senate’s failure to produce a bipartisan deal, to address the national labor shortage, save small businesses, and unleash immigrants’ economic potential.
ABIC Executive Director Rebecca Shi outlined how the immigration reform provisions provided in the Build Back Better Plan meet the criteria for inclusion in the budget reconciliation process as they encompass both human infrastructure and budgetary concerns. “Immigration is as much or more human infrastructure as any provision in the bill; 72 percent of undocumented immigrants have worked in an industry designated as essential to rebuild and recover our nation from the pandemic,” said Shi, adding “The Build Back Better Plan is a budget bill; Immigration is as directly related to the budget as any other provision.
Shi also noted that there is precedent for addressing immigration via reconciliation, stating “Reconciliation has included immigrants at least five times in the last 20 years. In 2005, senate republicans used reconciliation to give green cards to an estimated 3.2 million immigrants.”
This week, a group of the nation’s leading economists sent a letter to congressional leadership urging a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation, arguing that it would bolster the U.S. economy. In the letter, economists calculate that “creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those eligible for TPS, and undocumented immigrants in essential occupations, including farmworkers, would grow U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion, raise the annual wages of all workers by $600, and create more than 400,000 new jobs over the next decade. A new poll found 67-26% support for legalization in reconciliation extending across party lines, with intensity strongly pro-immigrant.
While ABIC had originally hoped for a bipartisan Senate deal for immigration solutions, it is now clear that the budget reconciliation process is the best vehicle for creating pathways to citizenship for the millions of immigrant essential workers, Dreamers, TPS recipients and farmworkers who keep America’s economy afloat, its food supply safe and its population healthy.
Additional speaker comments included:
Claudia Flores, Associate Director Policy and Strategy, Immigration, Center for American Progress: “Creating pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those eligible for TPS and undocumented immigrants in essential occupations, including farmworkers, would grow the U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion, raise the annual wages of all American workers by $600 and generate more than 400,000 new jobs over the next decade. Economists across the country agree… A pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers in the Build Back Better Plan would not only give workers the protections they deserve, but also provide families the certainty of remaining together in the country that they have long called home. At a time when the country is seeking to recover from the economic devastation that followed from the pandemic, this economic growth policy would also ensure that our country’s economic recovery is as just, equitable and robust as it has to be to meet the challenges that we face”
Johann Hayag, DACA recipient, Chief Strategist, Founder, Aktibo Athletics (Wisconsin): “We’re a sustainable athletic company where we source from recycled and sustainable materials to make your favorite joggers. We’re also a strong five-person team. We’ve secured contracts through several organizations, from nonprofit to athletic organizations, and have plans to introduce collections in the next few months. Having a pathway to citizenship for myself and others would allow us to pursue interests in the U.S., whether it’s to apply to loans from banks to fund our expansion for the business or to even get a mortgage for our house. This would allow myself and other undocumented people to contribute more into the U.S. economy. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of a lack of workers in our industry. The garment/textile industry heavily relies on immigrant workers, and due to the lack of visa worker permits, work permit grants and, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, this industry has been decimated.”
JR Gonzales, Entrepreneur and Executive Vice Chair, Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC): “In the state of Texas, alone, we have over 1.7 million undocumented workers adding a contribution of $31.9 billion to the economy and $4 billion in taxes. This money of course goes to our economy. It’s our stores, restaurants, our hospitals… Latinos are out there. They’re in the fields. They’re farmworkers. They’re essential workers. They’re in the restaurants and hotels…Let’s just accept it and come to some sort of agreement for a pathway for legalization and citizenship for these folks and have them contribute to the economy even more so.”
Mayra Gallo, Owner, Bonjour Crepes (South Carolina): “I’m Venezuelan and I was an attorney in my country. I left in 2005 to find a better future for me and my family…I own a restaurant here in Greenville and am speaking as an immigrant for all those people trying to get citizenship, to be legal in this country. We work so hard, no less than 80 hours a week. We love this country and we do it because we want it. We do it freely. It took me eight years to become a citizen. I have a small business. I pay taxes. I employ 15 people. We came through the pandemic. We survived the pandemic.”
Petra Falcon, Executive Director, Promise Arizona: “Immigrants play a critical role in Arizona. In Phoenix, immigrants make up one-third of all entrepreneurs and businesses contribute $300 million to the state’s economy. 50 percent of the employees in the landscaping industry are immigrants. 63.1 percent of workers in the agricultural community are immigrants. Immigrants paid $50.7 million in state and local taxes in 2018 and households led by immigrants had $21.1 billion in spending power in 2018. Immigrant entrepreneurs in Arizona generate $1 billion in business revenue… Yes, immigration reform is urgent, but it’s more than that; it’s long overdue. The time is now for immigration solutions and not as a piecemeal package but as a complete comprehensive package that delivers a pathway to citizenship to over 11 million people in this country.“
Tanairí Ochoa-Martinez, Interim Servicios Director, Living United for Change in Arizona – LUCHA: “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Latino-owned businesses and immigrant businesses. About 75 percent of those I’ve worked with the past six years here in the state of Arizona were immigrant-owned… They are the ones creating jobs, day by day, and are the ones willing to give paid benefits and increase salaries in our community, and they’re an asset… It is crucial that we support these businesses. For immigrant-owned businesses, getting a pathway to residency or citizenship will be so important for them to continue doing business here, not only in Arizona but in the United States, and be able to support their families safely in the United States while they’re building back our economy.”
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..