ATLANTA, GA — On Friday, the House Study Committee on Innovative Ways to Maximize Global Talent in Georgia held its first legislative meeting, marking an important step toward expanding economic and workforce opportunities for immigrants and refugees in Georgia. FWD.us Georgia State Immigration Manager Jaime Rangel, who participated in a panel to share his immigration story and highlight the barriers immigrants face in Georgia following the hearing, issued the following statement:
“We applaud Chairman Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock) and his colleagues under the Gold Dome on both sides of the aisle for taking action to ensure Georgia can reinvigorate its economy by maximizing contributions and workforce participation of our state’s immigrants and refugees. As the Peach State continues to battle worker shortages and other post-COVID challenges, it is well within the state’s interest to identify and eliminate barriers for all Georgians to fully participate and contribute to the economy, regardless of status.
“Today, an estimated 5,600 young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are stepping up to keep storefronts open and key industries running. Dreamers are also healthcare providers working to protect communities while putting the health and safety of themselves and their families at risk. As a DACA recipient myself and immigration advocate, I’ve seen and experienced firsthand the dedication of undocumented immigrants who are putting themselves through school, becoming business owners, and joining the Armed Forces, but regardless, are unable to become U.S. citizens. However strong our commitment is to this great state and nation, undocumented Georgians are met with constant uncertainty and limitations that prevent them from reaching their full potential. This includes an estimated 25,000 undocumented K-12 students and about 174,000 students with undocumented parents who face additional barriers to success as they work toward an education to better themselves and their futures.
“Now, Georgia State lawmakers are saying enough is enough. As they work to make strides at the state level, our leaders in Washington must also come together to provide undocumented immigrants with an earned pathway to citizenship, which includes exploring all avenues possible to achieve this, such as the Dream Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This pathway will help break down barriers for immigrants to more fully participate and contribute to society.”