ICYMI: Bipartisan Workforce Development Act Could Boost Georgia’s Economy, Invigorate Workforce

ATLANTA, GA — FWD.us Georgia State Immigration Director Jaime Rangel issued the following statement today upon introduction of HB 131, legislation that could boost the economy by helping eliminate academic barriers for Georgia students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status:

“It is encouraging to see lawmakers act swiftly to introduce HB 131, which recognizes the enormous community and economic benefits of DACA recipients – especially as our state continues to battle critical labor shortages. Georgia communities are filled with hardworking people from all walks of life who want to contribute to the place they call home, and tuition equity is an important way we can utilize the skills and talents of young Georgians of all backgrounds while generating better-paying jobs and increasing revenue. In fact, providing tuition equity for nearly 30,000 young Georgia Dreamers — including DACA recipients like myself — could add as much as $10 million to our economy every year.

“Today, most DACA recipients in Georgia have lived here for a majority of our lives and are taxpayers, job creators, and economic multipliers. The current lack of tuition equity discourages many young people and pushes them to pursue opportunities elsewhere, taking their talent and skill sets with them. That is why I’m thankful for Chairman Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) for introducing this legislation and the bills’ bipartisan co-sponsors – Chairman Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), Chairwoman Penny Houston (R-Nashville), and Representatives Solomon Adesanya (D-Marietta), Long Tran (D-Dunwoody), and Dale Washburn (R-Macon) – for their commitment to increasing economic opportunities in Georgia through pro-immigration, pro-growth legislation, and I encourage all lawmakers under the Gold Dome to move tuition equity forward. These types of innovative solutions are urgently needed so our state can prosper with the full economic participation of all Georgians.”

This bipartisan bill has sparked excitement from business leaders and community advocates who are encouraged to see a commonsense workforce and economic development bill that will benefit all Georgians.

Santiago Marquez, CEO of the Latin America Association: “The Latin American Association applauds Georgia state lawmakers for working to address critical gaps in our workforce development. Enacting tuition equity legislation for Georgia DACA recipients would benefit the entire state in crucial industries and communities that need help the most. We should be encouraging immigrants to educate themselves and work so that they too can lift themselves up and build a strong, stable life. I look forward to working with leaders across the state to ensure this bill gets across the finish line.”

Verónica Maldonado-Torres, President & CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “As the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce advocates for necessary policy changes, we strongly advocate for bipartisan solutions like tuition equity for Georgia DACA recipients so they can access in-state tuition to earn a higher education. Passing this sort of policy could bring an additional $10 million to the state’s economy each year, creating good-paying jobs and increasing tax contributions along the way. Further, DACA recipients are weaved into our state’s culture and society, a majority of whom have called Georgia home for most of their lives. It’s time our leaders enact legislation to ensure they can earn an education and build their careers here as well. At a time when enrollment at our higher education institutions is down, and Georgia's economy continues to grow, we need solutions such as this to ensure we create a competitive workforce for all of Georgia's businesses.”

Christian Olvera, DACA Recipient: “As a DACA recipient, I am grateful for my ability to legally live and work in the only state I’ve ever known as home. Education and DACA have made all the difference in the world for me: I’ve been able to earn my engineering management degree, build our family business with my father – which is now the largest Hispanic wedding and social event media provider in Dalton – and I’m proud to take responsibility and do my part for our community by paying taxes. However, it has not been an easy journey. Accessing higher education as a Georgia DACA recipient means paying out-of-state tuition costs, which for many makes the goal of earning a degree unobtainable. This then weakens our state’s talent pool and encourages immigrants to take their skills and talents to other states that enable their ability to earn the American dream. I hope the General Assembly does the right thing and moves tuition equity for DACA recipients forward so that we can all keep building a brighter future for our state.”

Jim Hollandsworth, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Path United: “I’m encouraged by the Georgia State Assembly for acting swiftly this legislative session to address the imminent threat to our labor force and better equip talented and qualified young immigrants with the tools to participate in our state’s workforce and economy. This much-needed bill will expand fair and equitable higher education opportunities to young Georgia immigrants, primarily DACA recipients, so they can fill the skills gap and key labor shortages at hand and help us build a prosperous workforce while ensuring sustained economic growth for the state of Georgia. DACA recipients should not be limited due to antiquated state policies, and failing to expand access to in-state tuition rates for these individuals means we are failing these young people. I look forward to working with state leaders to build a resilient workforce so that our economy can grow, and in return, build a resilient community for all.”

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