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Over 40 Bipartisan Mayors and County Executives To President Biden: Let Long-Settled Immigrants Work Legally, More Fully Contribute to Economy

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Dozens of bipartisan mayors and county executives from coast to coast have added their voices to calls urging the Biden administration to expand work permits for long-settled undocumented immigrants, including individuals married to U.S. citizens, Dreamers unable to apply for DACA, and others who’ve called America their home for years.

“Our request is rooted in the belief that extending the dignity of legal authorization to work for our residents born in Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and other countries would be a positive step forward,” the more than 40 mayors and county leaders write in their May 23 letter to the Biden administration. “These individuals have embraced the United States as their home and have, over decades, worked diligently, paid taxes, raised families, started businesses, and bought homes.” 

More than 11 million U.S. citizens currently share a home with someone undocumented, officials note. Over five million of these Americans are U.S. citizen kids, and they would see greater financial security, new educational opportunities, and improved physical and mental well-being if their undocumented parents were allowed to work legally. It’s also a “strategic move for our economy,” officials said.

“Legally allowing long-term immigrants to work will result in higher wages, shielding them from workplace exploitation and enabling them to contribute more effectively to the labor market,” the letter continues (remember that pro-immigrant policies also benefit U.S.-born workers by helping keep abusive bosses in check). “This, in turn, will lead to increased tax contributions, estimated at $13.8 billion annually. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the GDP of the U.S. economy is going to be boosted by $7 trillion over the next ten years due to the contributions of new arriving immigrants.”

“Despite their lack of work authorization, long-term immigrants are valued members of communities across this country,” the letter concludes. “They add tremendous value to the U.S. economy as neighbors, taxpayers, workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs. It is time we provided the security and opportunity they have long yearned for.” The letter was signed by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, Houston Mayor John Whitmire, Mesa Mayor John Giles, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, and dozens more local leaders here.

In a recent video, FWD.us noted that every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has used their authority under law to provide relief from deportation and work permits to people already building their lives in the U.S. “Parole in place would relieve Everk, a U.S. citizen, from constantly worrying about whether his family can stay together,” the video said. In a recent report from FWD.us, Jonathan, the U.S. citizen son of a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holder, said his dad’s protections allowed him to pursue his studies without the kinds of stresses that face some immigrant families.  

“My dad, through his labor, gave me the opportunity to finish college without worrying about paying for food or lodging, among other expenses,” he said. “I studied what I wanted because my parents’ financial support was enough. Now I work at the university and for a well-known private company as a biochemist.” Yanira, another U.S. citizen child of a TPS holder, said that because of her mom’s relief, “she was able to provide me with financial support so I could finish college … My mother has been the pillar of my life. I finished my degree and work as an architect now.”

Polling data shared by FWD.us found that an overwhelming 73% of voters approve President Biden’s action to protect long-settled immigrants. In comparison, 67% of voters in battleground states approve extending TPS to a greater number of nations in crisis. It’s popular – and the right thing to do when many of these immigrant workers already provide essential services across the country.  

During a virtual press call hosted by ABIC and CASA last month, Jaime Contreras, Executive Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, said that the March tragedy in Baltimore highlighted the urgency for the Biden administration to act. The six workers lost after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse were all immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. This month, a catastrophic vehicle crash in Florida took the lives of eight farmworkers who were on their way to work keeping America fed.

“In light of the tragedy, we strongly urge the Biden administration to use its legal authority to the greatest extent possible to protect people who live and contribute in this country for many, many years – some for decades – but still lack a secure and enduring legal status,” Contreras said in April. 

In Pennsylvania, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Legislative Latino Caucus, advocates, business leaders and impacted individuals from the state continued this call as President Biden and Vice President Harris visited Philadelphia on Wednesday. More than 140 local and state Latino elected officials had previously signed a letter urging the president to act, the American Business Immigration Coalition said.

“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,” said Pennsylvania State Rep. Napoleon Nelson, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. “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.”

RELATED: ‘Gave Me the Opportunity to Finish College’: How Expanding Work Permits for Long-Settled Immigrants Benefits U.S. Citizen Children Too

Lawmakers, Business and Labor Voices, and Communities Urge Biden Administration to Protect Families, Boost Economy By Expanding Work Permits to Immigrant Spouses of U.S. Citizens

‘I Can Keep Supporting My Family, and Doing Much-Needed Work In My Community’: Biden Administration Extends Work Permits for 800,000 Immigrant Workers