AUSTIN, TX – As June 1 marks the beginning of Immigrant Heritage Month, a decade of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be celebrated on June 15, and our nation works to grow our workforce to support the recovering economy, Texas business and community leaders have come together in support of our Texas immigrant community and all those who rely upon their skills and talents.
Texas is home to nearly five million immigrant residents who pay more than $40 billion in annual taxes. These Texan immigrants are business owners, co-workers, neighbors, families, and friends, all contributing to our state’s vibrant culture and economy. As we face an ongoing labor shortage and work to sustain Texas’ growth, it is critical we ensure all Texas residents are able to fully contribute to our state.
As ongoing litigation threatens the future of the DACA program, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, and more than 204,000 DACA-eligible residents call Texas home, the need to provide Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship is as important as ever. In fact, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments surrounding the program in early July, which could lead to the end of the DACA program when an anticipated decision is handed down this fall. This would be devastating for the Dreamers the program protects and could rip tens of thousands of hardworking young immigrants from our workforce and communities when we need them most.
Texas business and community leaders issued the following statements today to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month while emphasizing the need for Congress to find solutions that meet the needs of Texas immigrants, our economy, and state as a whole:
Melissa Stewart, Senior Executive Director, Texas Restaurant Association: “The restaurant industry was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing approximately 700,000 employees at its peak in Texas alone. Many of these employees transitioned to other industries or left the workforce entirely, making it very difficult for restaurants to rebuild. Making matters worse, workforce shortages are impacting restaurants’ supply chains, driving up costs to historic levels. To address these challenges, we need all the solutions on the table—including commonsense immigration reform and a permanent solution to DACA. Our industry is proud to be the most diverse in the nation thanks to our country’s long history of immigrants bringing their food and culture to America. This Immigrant Heritage Month is the perfect time to build on that legacy with our representatives in Congress leading the charge to pass immigration reform that supports our economy, restaurant community, and the entire State of Texas.”
Glenn Hamer, President and CEO, Texas Association of Business: “The labor shortage crippling our state must be addressed. To do so, we must leave no stone unturned by tapping into Texas’ immigrant workforce. As I wrote when I first started at TAB, ‘We have a unique opportunity at hand to build a commonsense approach to immigration that keeps families safe and together, grows our economy, supports our recovery and contributes to a robust workforce — and the time to act is now.’ It’s been a year since I echoed those words, but the sentiment remains: the time to act is now. As we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month, our state’s Dreamers, immigrant community, and businesses are counting on Congress to enact meaningful reform.”
Zaira Garcia, FWD.us Texas State Immigration Director: “As the daughter of immigrants, I am proud and honored to celebrate my parents and the millions of other immigrant residents living in Texas this Immigrant Heritage Month. But while we celebrate their impactful contributions, we are also reminded of the shortfalls of our failed immigration system that harms Texas’ families and economy. I encourage Texas’ elected officials to mark Immigrant Heritage Month and the tenth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by working toward meaningful immigration reform that supports Texas’ families and workforce.”
Brett Perlman, President and CEO, Center for Houston’s Future: “Center for Houston’s Future views immigration and immigrants as key to the economic success of the Houston region as well as nationally. Our research has shown that if we were to restrict immigration by 30 percent, Houston would lose $51 billion in regional GDP by 2036. It is vitally important that we provide DACA recipients and immigrants avenues to continue doing the productive and important work that benefits us all.”
Chelsie Kramer, Texas State Organizer, American Immigration Council and Texans for Economic Growth: “Immigrants from every corner of the planet and every walk of life have helped shape Texas into a prosperous and diverse beacon of opportunity and prosperity. With over 125 Texas businesses, organizations, and leaders, Texans for Economic Growth proudly celebrates the positive impact immigrants continue to have on our great state and strongly urges our policy leaders to do the same by modernizing our 30+ year-old immigration system and create a system that is more reflective of Texas’ needs.”