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Senator Durbin: “11 million undocumented people live in this country and contribute to our economy. They deserve to live and work here without fear.”

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Immigration reform is essential for immigrant families and our economy


Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a longtime champion of immigration reform, said this on CNN yesterday: 

11 million undocumented people live in this country and contribute to our economy. They deserve to live and work here without fear. It’s been 30-plus years since Congress passed immigration reform. We can’t wait any longer. Now is the time and reconciliation is the way.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, hit similar themes yesterday, stating:

We saw how essential workers, many undocumented, kept our country running at great risk, and the need for a fair pathway to citizenship for all immigrants became clearer than ever.

A Vox story by Nicole Narea, “Immigrants could fix the US labor shortage offers a primer on why immigrant workers are so essential and why the legislative opportunity at hand matters to our economic recovery and vitality. Narea writes:

The federal government can’t force people to work. But it can make it easier for immigrants to fill needed roles — and avoiding economic problems as the US works its way out of the pandemic recession is a good reason to do so.

We at America’s Voice published this piece yesterday: “Georgia: The Arc From Anti-Immigrant Laws to Needing Immigrants:”

What a difference a decade makes.

In 2011, the GOP-controlled Georgia Legislature passed HB 87, a viciously anti-immigrant bill, modeled after Arizona’s notorious SB1070. The legislation was signed into law by then-Governor Nathan Deal on May 13, 2011. The new law made it a crime to knowingly harbor or transport undocumented immigrants, imposed harsh penalties for providing false papers to an undocumented immigrant, and established a ‘papers please’ policy allowing law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they ‘reasonably suspected’ to be in the country illegally. It also contained E-Verify provisions.

… Fast forward to 2021, when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports, “As Georgia faces labor shortage, lawmakers consider solutions from immigrant advocates.”

‘In Georgia and throughout the country, the pace of the post-COVID economic recovery has been slowed by a persistent challenge: labor shortages.

Earlier this month, the state’s labor commissioner told the AJC the situation is unprecedented: ‘We have never had this many jobs sitting open.’

As those shortages drag on, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has been meeting to learn about ways Georgia immigrants could be part of the solution, and more fully contribute to the state’s economy.’

It took ten years, a disastrous anti-immigrant law, and a pandemic, but Georgia may finally be facing the reality that immigrants are integral to the state.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

America’s economy needs workers. America’s economy needs immigrants. The public strongly support immigration reform for undocumented immigrants settled in America. So does the President. So do members of Congress. So do leaders of the labor movement and the business community. 

It’s no surprise that the GOP, led by Trump, are putting their anti-immigrant theology ahead of helping the American economy. It is a surprise that Democrats are struggling to find a way forward on a measure that is vital to economic growth and supported by a majority of Democratic, independent and Republican voters. 

The nation could not have made it through the COVID crisis without our immigrant workforce and we cannot fully recover without them either.