DALLAS, TX — Yesterday, FWD.us led a virtual conversation with U.S. Representative Marc Veasey (TX-33), Texas community leaders, and impacted individuals on necessary solutions for urgently needed immigration reforms. Across Texas, undocumented immigrants are playing an outsized role in the state’s COVID-19 response efforts and have long been contributing to the rich culture and economy that makes Texas a national and global leader. Especially in North Texas, their contributions have driven business growth and helped key industries emerge stronger from the pandemic. The conversation expanded on the community and economic benefit that immigrants bring to Texas and the urgency for Congress to pass common sense legislative solutions that create a pathway to citizenship and legal certainty for undocumented immigrants and their families.
Yesterday’s event comes just weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603). These bills would provide an earned pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, DACA-eligible individuals, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and undocumented immigrants in agriculture, and would reform certain temporary visa programs.
Today, Texas is home to more than 930,000 undocumented immigrant essential workers – including an estimated 300,000 here in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area – who are contributing to key industries across Texas such as farming, healthcare, education, construction, and beyond. An estimated 30,600 DACA recipients in Texas are also working essential jobs and risking their own health and safety so that we can emerge stronger from this pandemic.
FWD.us Texas Immigration State Director Zaira Garcia began the conversation by highlighting the significant contributions of Texas undocumented immigrants and their disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the essential jobs they are filling. Zaira also emphasized the unjust barriers that often prevent immigrants from protecting their health and families’ well-being and the need for Congress to enact permanent legislative solutions to immigration reform.
As a representative of the diverse DFW region, Congressman Veasey praised the good work of the House for passing H.R. 6 and H.R. 1603 and highlighted the overwhelming support of Texans for solidifying permanent, legislative solutions to repair the nation’s antiquated, broken immigration system. Attendees also heard from Chris Wallace, President and CEO of the North Texas Commission who underscored the economic impact that immigrants have on the DFW region and the detrimental loss Texas could face should we lose these individuals. Additionally, DACA recipient Gloria Rinconi shared her story as a therapist and one of the 106,000 DACA recipients who have built their lives in the Lone State and whom our communities, businesses and economies rely on.
Now that the House has passed the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, it is time for the Senate to do their part and send these bills to the President’s desk.
A full recording of the conversation can be found here. Participant quotes from yesterday’s roundtable are below:
“Texas is fueled by the contributions of immigrants and their families. Today, an overwhelming number of Texans want solutions to our broken immigration system that honor our values, keep Americans safe and protect undocumented individuals who have long been a vital part of our communities and our economy. I am proud of the work we have done in Congress this far to pass the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to once and for all recognize the hard work and dedication of immigrant farmworkers, Dreamers, TPS holders, and beyond. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to get these important bills and other much-needed pro-immigration policies across the finish line.” – Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33)
“Undocumented immigrants in Texas are the bloodline of our society and economy. Many are currently serving on the frontlines of our state and nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and have been enriching our culture, communities, and economy for years. However, a pathway to citizenship has yet to be established. Congress and the Biden Administration should seize the opportunity at hand to come together to advance much-needed solutions that will fix our nation’s broken immigration system, protect America’s immigrants, and build a stronger Texas. I thank Congressman Veasey and the rest of our participants for joining today, and look forward to continuing our work together to enact reform.” – Zaira Garcia, FWD.us Texas Immigration State Director
“When I was just a year old, I immigrated to the United States with my parents. DACA has provided me and many other Dreamers like me with immense opportunity, but the current immigration system has failed to allow us to earn citizenship in the only place we’ve known as home. It is my hope that our leaders in Congress and the Administration will work together to get vital legislation such as the American Dream and Promise Act signed into law so we can call the U.S. home once and for all.” – Gloria Rinconi, DACA Recipient and Therapist
“The immigrant community has provided and continues to provide enormous support for key industries and the broader economy here in Texas. For example, North Texas is proudly home to more than 100,000 immigrant entrepreneurs who bring in a total business income of $2.9 billion. The Texas DACA community also contributes hundreds of millions in taxes each year. With bills such as the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, these individuals can finally have a clear pathway to earn citizenship so they can continue building their lives here in Texas. Our leaders in Washington must finish the job and get these bills signed into law.” – Chris Wallace, President and CEO of the North Texas Commission