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Texas Latino Elected Officials, Catholic Bishops and Advocates Call On Biden To Extend Work Permits to Long-Term Immigrant Residents


150+ U.S. Latino Elected Officials, 58 from Texas, Recently Endorsed Letter Urging President Biden To Extend Work Permits to Long-Term Immigrants in 2024

Reports Indicate Biden Considering Administrative Action As Early As June

TEXAS — Today, the American Business Immigration Coalition, in partnership with the Texas House of Representatives Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) — the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States — held a virtual press conference urging the White House and Congress to grant legal work permits to long-term residents, including the undocumented spouses and immediate family of U.S. citizens, Dreamers who do not qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and long-term workers without a path to legal status. The event occurred as the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is considering lawsuits against SB 4, which would arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, and the DACA program, which protects young Americans who came to the U.S. as children and lack immigration status. 

Speakers included Latino lawmakers representing Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and the Rio Grande Valley, as well as business leaders and Catholic bishops who collectively are urging President Biden and Congress to do the right thing and dedicate attention to long-term residents who have been working and paying taxes for years, even decades. 

The press call highlighted the growing crescendo behind this policy move. Sources have recently told The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that President Biden is considering administrative action to expand access to work permits for the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens, potentially as early as June 2024.

More than 150 elected officials, including 58 from Texas and across 21 U.S. states and territories, sent a letter in support of extending work permits to these groups to the White House, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou. The policy is estimated to boost tax revenue by $13.8 billion annually while safeguarding long-term immigrants from exploitation, advancing a strong U.S. workforce and protecting Texans from SB 4, if this law takes effect. (View the full letter here.)

Statements from event participants: 

Jorge Avila, Member, American Families United, married for 15 years to an immigrant spouse who currently lives in Mexico, due to a 10-year immigration bar:
“Last week, I met with the White House to continue to urge President Biden to help my family, and I will continue to go to D.C. until I have my wife back. President Biden, we need you to be our ‘John Rambo’: please expand work authorization for our families and allow them to live together in the only country that we call home — the United States of America.” 

Juan Carlos Cerda, Texas State Director, American Business Immigration Coalition:

“As a DACA recipient, I am an example of what immigrants can accomplish and contribute to our economy when we have access to work authorization. Thanks to a work permit, I was able to legally work as a public school teacher, obtain a driver license and live the American dream. President Biden needs to expand work authorization to other long-term Texas residents.”

State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado (D-Dallas), MALC Chairwoman:
“Texas has the eighth largest economy in the world and while we have an exceptional workforce, we need many more workers. More than 1.6 million long-term residents lack work permits and could fill the gap and catapult our economy if given the opportunity.” 

State Rep. Lulu Flores (D-Austin):
“Expanding work authorization will benefit so many American families and our economy, especially in Texas. Our Texas economy can continue to grow if we protect families that contribute to our society and communities.” 

J.R. Gonzales, Executive Vice Chairman, Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce:
“In a startling revelation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that Texas faces a dire shortage, with just 80 available workers for every 100 open positions. This crisis spells trouble for the Lone Star State’s businesses, threatening the sustainability of its booming economy. By not expanding work authorization for long term residents, Texas risks losing its economic vitality.”

Brandon Baeza, Dreamer ineligible for DACA:
“I am an example of the more than 277,000 undocumented Dreamers in Texas who are striving for a chance to contribute more fully to the country we’ve known as home, and to apply our skills, education, and passions to enrich our communities and the economy. Today, I call on President Biden to expand work authorization for long-term residents. President Biden, we are here to work. Let us.” 

Sandra Avalos, DACA recipient:
“Thanks to DACA, I work as a Parent Programs Manager at the LULAC National Education Service Center in Dallas. I say that I am lucky because I know that there are at least 8,000 students that graduated from Dallas ISD last year that don’t have that same opportunity to work legally. There are folks that were left out of DACA since its inception. There are also folks that during the Trump administration and after the supreme court ruling submitted their initial application, paid the $495 fee, and have not received their work authorization card.” 

State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas):
“We have a labor force that is largely made up of immigrant labor. The ‘Texas Miracle’ has been driven by generations of hard-working immigrants that have built the cities that we all live in and enjoy today. Without that plentiful supply of high-skilled immigrant labor, we would not be experiencing the ‘Texas Miracle’ that has now gained notoriety worldwide. The solution here is not complicated. Short of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, President Biden has the opportunity, with the stroke of a pen, to provide these Americans without status an opportunity to bring their human capital to bear for their fellow Texans.” 

State Rep. Ramón Romero, Jr. (D-Fort Worth):
“This is my business, President Biden. For 30 years, I’ve been in the construction, swimming pool and irrigation systems business. Expanding work authorization is an urgent matter because right now prices are going to continue to go up. The quality of goods and services is not the same. It’s not fair, it’s not the American way and we can correct that now. We can bring safety and security for mixed-status families.” 

State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston):
“There are over 572,000 Houstonians that fit into the category of immigrants who do not have legal paperwork. Over 60 percent have been here 10 years or more. These are our friends, neighbors, co-workers. They’re here and they’re doing great things for our city and for our state. If we can give them proper paperwork, they can expand their businesses, hire more people, pay more taxes, make more money and spend more, helping improve Houston, the entire state and the entire nation. We thank President Biden for not only doing what is right, but what is good for the nation economically.”

Bishop Mark Seitz, Catholic Diocese of El Paso:
“Immigrant workers are integral to the life of our nation. They tend our fields, maintain our roads and staff our hospitals. Through these and other acts, they labor for us all. Without their contributions, American communities would grind to a standstill. The Church remains committed to securing rights and justice for those who labor humbly in the shadows, and we urge leaders to undertake much-needed reforms that recognize their essential contributions. Consistent with this, we ask the Administration to take all action within its power to protect long-time undocumented residents of American communities, especially the members of mixed-status families and others with close ties to our country.”



American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) is a bipartisan coalition of over 1,200+ 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.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) was founded in 1973 in the Texas House of Representatives by a small group of lawmakers of Mexican American heritage for the purpose of strengthening their numbers and better representing a united Latino constituency across the state. MALC is the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States.