Immigration action will boost Florida's economy

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 02/25/2015

Diego Garcia came to Miami when he was 11 years old. His family received E-1 visas, which provide legal status for five years. When Diego was a teenager, he wasn’t able to renew his visa and was days away from becoming undocumented. Despite his immigration status, Diego fought to be able to attend University of Florida, and later graduated with a degree in nuclear engineering. He wants to stay in America – the country he calls home – but his future is uncertain because of our broken immigration system. Diego’s story is just one of thousands in Florida, and across the United States.

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Immigration has had a huge impact on Florida’s culture and economy. Florida’s labor force is almost 25% foreign-born, and nearly 30% of Florida business owners are immigrants. With such a large immigrant population, Florida will gain a powerful economic boost from President Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform. By 2025, the new programs created by executive immigration action will increase Florida’s GDP by $4.3 billion to $10 billion.

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253,000 people are eligible for the expansion of DACA and creation of DAPA in Florida, gaining the opportunity to apply for work permits and live without fear of deportation and separation from their families. We know that these programs are the right choice for America’s – and Florida’s – families and economy.

“I love energy policy, it’s what drives me,” explained Diego, who hopes immigration action will allow him to secure a more permanent immigration status. “I love this country. I feel American.”

Click here to find out where your Representative stands on immigration. 

 

Days Before DHS Shutdown, Sen. Durbin Stresses the Importance of DACA

Posted by Gillis Bernard on 02/24/2015

Only a few days remain until the Department of Homeland Security will run out of funding. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats continued to push back against a bill that halts the DHS shutdown, but blocks President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. Among those opposing the bill, which cleared the Republican-led House in late January, is Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). Durbin spoke to the Senate Tuesday about the positive impact policies included in President Obama’s executive actions, like the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), could have on the U.S. economy and the lives of millions of immigrants living in the U.S.

“I’m lucky,” said Durbin, “My mother was an immigrant in this country and I stand on the Senate floor representing the great state of Illinois. It’s my story, it’s my family’s story, it’s America’s story.”

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If passed, the immigration amendments attached to the January bill would bar any federal funds from being funneled into President Obama’s executive action programs. The bill also threatens to cut all support for DACA, which has already helped over 600,000 young people to come out of the shadows and live without fear of deportation.

Watch Senator Durbin’s speech on the Senate floor:

“It doesn’t make sense for us to put in jeopardy the security of America over a political debate on immigration,” said Durbin.

Durbin shared the story of Jirayut New Latthivongskorn, one of the 600,000 DREAMers protected by President Obama’s DACA program. Latthivongskorn came with his family to the United States from Thailand at age nine. He dedicated himself to learning the English language and his schoolwork, while simultaneously working 30 hours a week at his family’s restaurant. During his senior year, Latthivongskorn was admitted to and received a generous scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley – one that, due to his undocumented status, he was unable to accept. Despite the obstacles, he graduated from Berkeley with honors in molecular and cellular biology, and started medical school this fall at the University of California at San Francisco.

“Let us fund [the Department of Homeland Security] to keep America safe. But let us also dedicate ourselves to passing legislation which fixes our immigration system and helps [DREAMers] become part of America’s future,” said Durbin.

In lieu of the bill, Congressional Democrats are pushing for a short-term alternative. The “clean bill” would provide the Department of Homeland Security with enough  funds to operate through the fiscal year and keep intact the programs outlined in November’s executive actions.

Want to advocate for immigration reform in your city? Join your FWD.us chapter now.

A Win for Tech and Families: Today's Important Progress for H-4 Visa Holders

Posted by Todd Schulte on 02/24/2015

We’re excited and thankful for today’s H-4 visa rule, one more part of the executive immigration actions that FWD.us has been fighting for. It’s another important step to fixing aspects of our broken immigration system – this time, it’s allowing spouses (who have an H-4 visa) of certain workers to put their education, training, and talents to work in the country they love and call home. It’s great news for thousands of families and our economy. We’re a nation of immigrants – and immigration has long been one of our great national, competitive advantages.

This is a common sense ruling based on the belief that being a nation of immigrants gives every single on of us the chance to achieve the American dream and help build a great nation.

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We know that immigrants grow our economy, drive entrepreneurship, create American jobs – and contribute every single day to the United States’ global leadership in innovation. Today’s H-4 rule change means that nearly 180,000 more people, largely women, will have the chance to build on that success. It will empower this cohort of individuals – many of whom were skilled professionals in their country of origin, but have been unable to work in the U.S. – to put their education, training, and talents to work in the country they love and call home. As many as an additional 55,000 H-4 visa holders may be eligible annually in the years to come. That’s good news for these individuals and their families, and it’s good news for our economy, too.

But we know this is just one fix to one visa category while hundreds of thousands of people wait in the green card backlog or anxiously await the results of the H-1B lottery in April.  We’re moving in the right direction, but tech still needs immigration reform.

It goes without saying that our job is nowhere near done – and that every day without a permanent legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system is hurting our nation. In the meantime, this policy change is vitally important for the tens of thousands of H-4 visa holders already living here and contributing to our communities, so that they can participate even more fully in our economy.

Lastly – today wouldn’t have happened without the tireless advocacy of not only the many thousands of people who will themselves benefit from this policy, but also from so many others fighting to fix our broken immigration system. We’re humbled and proud that FWD.us has helped over 370,000 different individuals take a meaningful action to push for immigration reform. But our work is not done: take two minutes to do your part in the fight for permanent immigration reform – call your Member of Congress to let them know that today’s rule change is a step in the right direction.

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New Yorkers will benefit from DACA and DAPA

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 02/19/2015

This year 338,000 New Yorkers will be able to come out of the shadows, apply for work permits, and live without fear of deportation and separation from their families. Nearly one in four New Yorkers is an immigrant, making the expansion of DACA and creation of DAPA especially critical for New York families.

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“We want to stay here. We want to contribute. We want to make America better,” explains Hina Naveed, a DREAMer from Staten Island. Hina’s family came to the United States seeking medical treatment for her younger sister. Her parents faced a terrible decision: overstay their visa to save their daughter’s life, or leave the United States and risking losing a child. They decided to stay, and they are now two of 338,000 New Yorkers who will benefit from President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform.

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Increasing New York’s labor force by 338,000 people will have a huge impact on New York’s economy. Executive action on immigration reform will increase New York’s GDP by $7 billion to $16.4 billion by 2025 – to put that in perspective, that could fund public education for over 300,000 New York City students based on the 2014 budget.

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Allowing undocumented families to come out of the shadows will create more revenue for the state of New York and allow parents to earn an honest living – and pay their fair share of taxes. For Hina, who hopes to be a nurse and one day serve in the military, executive action on immigration reform is a critical first step for keeping her family together and allowing her to pursue her dreams.

If you think you are eligible for DACA or DAPA, visit USCIS for more information.