Press call previews President Biden’s State of the Union address and continued House Committee hearings
Link to Call Recording Here
Washington D.C. – Earlier today, America’s Voice hosted a press call previewing President Biden’s State of the Union address, his immigration record and the larger immigration state of play – for both Democrats and Republicans – from the perspective of business, labor, border security, faith, immigration and Latino civic engagement leaders. The President’s address next week is an opportunity for the Biden administration to show leadership on immigration issues and draw sharp contrasts with the approaches pushed by House Republicans.
With new policies rolled out by the President and a series of House hearings – and possible impeachment proceedings against Secretary Mayorkas – set in motion by House Republicans, proposals to address the high number of asylum seekers seeking safety at the U.S. border and a continuing mismatch between legal immigration and the demand for immigrants from our economy and communities, these experts offered their perspective on how Congress, the President and the nation should address immigration and immigration reform.
Rebecca Shi, Executive Director, American Business Immigration Coalition, said: “Two years of lost immigration’ is responsible for close to half of the 3.5 million workers missing from the labor force since the pandemic and just this morning the Department of Labor announced that unemployment is at 3.4% the lowest since 1969, and there are 2 job openings per every unemployed person looking for work. We urge Congress and President Biden to prioritize immigration reform that addresses labor shortages, lowers inflation, treats immigrant workers with respect and dignity, and strengthens the economy for the 21st century.”
Enrique Fernandez, VP of Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity, UNITE HERE, said: “As the backbone of many industries in the U.S. — especially the hospitality industry that UNITE HERE represents — immigrant workers deserve better than to live as second-class citizens. It’s time for the Biden administration and for Congress to live up to the many campaign-trail promises of prioritizing reform to a broken system long overdue for a fix. Our Union is committed to fighting on behalf of immigrant workers seeking to sustain a life for themselves and their families, and, until we achieve a comprehensive solution, we will organize for change that benefits immigrant communities today: higher wages, access to affordable health care, and the rights and protections under the law afforded by a union contract.”
Kevin Appleby, Interim Director, Center for Migration Studies of New York said: “As Yogi Berra said, it’s deja vu all over again. Just like during the Trump era, immigrants on the border are being denied their rights while Congress continues to struggle, mainly due to Republican opposition, to repair our broken immigration system.
“From a faith perspective, we cannot use the sweat equity of immigrants without offering them the protection of our laws. And we cannot call ourselves a nation based on the rule of law while denying persons the legal right to asylum. Congress and the Administration must work together to finally fix a broken system by passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
Hector Sanchez Barba, Executive Director and CEO, Mi Familia Vota said: Mi Familia Vota is an immigrant-led organization fighting to build Latino political power. We know firsthand how toxic the rhetoric around our community has become. When President Biden was running for office in 2020, he promised me in a town hall in Las Vegas that his administration would immediately act on our immigration priorities. He can now reframe the conversation around immigration with his State of the Union address. To do so, he must unambiguously embrace our long-held history of being a country that is welcoming to immigrants and those who need help. To reach voters like those that MFV works with every day, President Biden must define his vision for the country, lean into pro-immigration policies and draw a sharp contrast with what we see and hear from Republicans. The time for action is now; our communities cannot wait.”
Michael Breen, President & CEO, Human Rights First, said: “While bigoted rhetoric that targets immigrants has become common from some politicians who see fear-mongering as an electoral strategy, it is not resolving the issue. We know – and polling shows the American people understand – that we can have a secure border, a secure country, and remain a leader in protecting those seeking refuge, safety, and opportunity. Managing migration in a humane way should be the first priority of U.S. policy, rather than trying to prevent it and punishing people seeking refuge.”
Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director, America’s Voice, said: “As the President goes to Congress for the State of the Union address, we are left wondering whether he intends to use his bully pulpit to speak frankly to the American people about the key role immigrants play in our nation and our economy, and whether he will assert strong leadership in turning the page on Trump and Stephen Miller’s policies. He has the opportunity to make a strong case for the broader and very popular immigration reform agenda he launched at the beginning of his presidency. As for the GOP, it is a time to choose. There are a few moderates in the House and Senate who will push back on the nativist instincts of House Republican leadership who know the ban on asylum or opposition to any and all immigration will take a high toll on the ability of the GOP to expand and they are exactly right.”