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ICYMI: Two Georgia Immigration Op-Eds Make Powerful Cases for Why Democrats Should Deliver on Immigration Reform Now

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Washington, DC – Two recent op-eds from leading Georgia immigration experts make powerful cases for why Democrats should use their majority – which was secured when Democrats won two Georgia Senate seats – to deliver meaningful immigration relief for millions.

In the Georgia Recorder, Jerry Gonzalez of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) writes “Congress should keep fighting to support immigration reform in spending plan.” 

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, immigration attorney and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Charles Kuck writes, “Action needed in Ga. and Congress on immigration relief.”

Find key excerpts of both op-eds below.

Congress should keep fighting to support immigration reform in spending plan,” Jerry Gonzalez:

“The power lies with Congress to determine funding priorities for the upcoming year through the budget reconciliation process that will ensure we remain competitive and recover.

…The House-passed Build Back Better Act includes necessary provisions that will transform the lives of about 7 million undocumented immigrants, all of whom have lived, worked, and contributed to our nation for an average of 20 years.

…If signed into law, this would be a victory for immigrants and the economy, and would provide immigration relief to the largest population in history.

While it is imperative to pass immigration relief now, leaders in Congress should use it as a stepping stone for passing citizenship for all. After all, an overwhelming majority of voters see the clear benefits of immigration by supporting a pathway to citizenship as part of immigration reform and without a permanent, long-term legislative solution for all, our communities, labor forces, and economies will continue to be saddled with the costs.

…Today, nearly one in ten Georgians is an immigrant, filling our workforce and society with diversity and international talent. Across the Peach State, more than 1 million Georgia immigrants pay billions a year in taxes and are employed in key industries such as construction, hospitality, and agriculture.

I thank our Georgia leaders, including Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, a Suwannee Democrat, and Rep. Lucy McBath, a Marietta Democrat, for supporting this bill through the House and encourage all of our representatives in Congress to continue exploring all avenues to provide undocumented immigrants with a pathway to earned legal status, both through the Build Back Better Act and individual legislation. Now is the time for real leadership to get transformative immigration relief across the finish line. It’s the right thing to do for Georgia and for the future of our country.”

Action needed in Ga. and Congress on immigration relief,” Charles Kuck:

“Immigrants of all backgrounds contribute to our economy, workforce, and communities in the form of skills, talent, labor and financial support. Today, one in 10 residents in the Peach State is an immigrant and about 10% of Georgia’s foreign born residents are undocumented. As a whole – regardless of status – the immigrant community holds an annual spending power of over $29 billion and they pay an estimated $10.8 billion in taxes annually. These contributions are already significant, and they are even more so when considering the state of our economy following the pandemic.

…While state elected officials focus on growing our communities, it is imperative that efforts at the federal level match. This includes passing immigration relief through the Build Back Better Act that allows an estimated 7 million undocumented individuals to apply for work permits and deportation protections. While this only impacts a portion of the nation’s immigrant community, it is a step in the right direction after nearly three decades of congressional inaction on immigration reform.

With a majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle in agreement that immigrants without citizenship should have some access to a pathway for earned legal status, we need Congress, including Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff, to pass immigration relief now and offer up their clear and emphatic support for passing a pathway to citizenship for all later.

Georgia greatly benefits from our immigrant population, and we would be remiss to cast them aside as though they do nothing for us. We need transformative immigration relief that allows for people to find certainty and stay with their families. This ultimately encourages undocumented immigrants to continue working to reach their full potential, while in turn, benefiting the whole state.”