Washington, DC – Virginia labor leader Jaime Contreras and Ohio business leader Steve Stivers are both calling on Congress to include immigration in the Build Back Better Agenda. Both argue that immigrant workers are crucial to helping mitigate the current worker shortage in America. Both address the role immigrants and immigration can play in helping their respective battleground states recover from the COVID crisis.
In a Virginia Mercury op-ed, Jaime Contreras, naturalized U.S. citizen and U.S. Navy veteran, and vice president at 32BJ SEIU said:
“An overwhelmingly immigrant-essential workforce kept our economy from total collapse during the pandemic. They paid with their lives, getting sick and dying of COVID-19 at some of the highest rates to build back our economy, working at a higher rate (88 percent) than the overall population (63 percent), doing the jobs that most Americans won’t do.
[…] Businesses that would otherwise lose employees as well as their customers are counting on Virginia’s senators to do the right thing. Economists widely agree that restricting immigration would restrain growth and that steady immigration is key to a diverse and healthy economy, with population growth alone making an important contribution.
Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure more than 1 million individuals who are currently allowed to work here legally can stay in the U.S., including Dreamers who are currently allowed to work here legally – but are at risk of losing that status. Deporting Dreamers and TPS holders will not create a single job but it wouldDreamers and TPS holders, protecting these groups is not politically risky. Recent polling shows broad support for a path to citizenship and other forms of legalization, including battleground voters (take note Virginia) who strongly support Congress passing lasting protections for undocumented immigrants, especially among unmotivated Democratic voters who are crucial turnout voters in the midterm election.”
In a Dayton Daily News op-ed, Steve Stivers, Ohio Chamber of Commerce CEO, former State Senator, former U.S. Congressman said:
“Ohio’s business community knows the status quo isn’t an option to solve our workforce issues, so we advocate for policies that will grow the workforce and help us fill job vacancies. For example, improving access to green cards for in-demand sector employees and increasing work visa quotas for foreign workers to reflect current skills gaps.
Attracting and retaining global talent also has benefits beyond the business community. It creates a more robust tax base; foreign-born Ohioans paid $6 billion in taxes in 2019, according to New American Economy. Immigrants also have a positive impact on entrepreneurship, as immigrants launch new businesses at significant rates; today, more than 29,000 foreign-born entrepreneurs create services and support our local economies across Ohio. Finally, immigrants are key to economic recovery. A new report from NAE assessing the aftermath of the Great Recession, found that metro areas with more immigrants were able to recover faster than others. On average, each additional percentage point of foreign-born residents was associated [with] almost 800 more employed workers in 2015.”
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
“While the immigration issue has become partisan in Washington, with Republicans strongly opposing legal immigration or immigration reform, in the rest of the country it remains an issue of bipartisan consensus.
A strong majority of Americans, including leaders from both the labor and business communities, recognize that America will be stronger when we finally deliver immigration reform. Measures to legalize the existing immigrant workforce and facilitate legal immigration can stimulate growth, help curb inflation, address labor shortages and have benefits across the economy.
In states like Ohio and Virginia, the best politics for Democrats is to deliver on their promises and enact popular policies that strengthen American communities and transform the lives of millions, including immigrant families.”