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ICYMI: Businesses Leading the Charge

September 20, 2013


ICYMI: As Businesses Help Employees Become Citizens, Leaders Nationwide Insist House Act on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Continuing the refrain from a successful August recess, business leaders nationwide are sending resounding messages on the importance of citizenship and support for urgent action on immigration reform.

As a part of the New Americans Campaign’s celebration of Citizenship Day on Tuesday, businesses, aspiring Americans and immigration advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., and Miami to highlight the work of the Bethlehem Project — a groundbreaking program that partners local service providers with businesses to provide their citizenship-eligible employees with free or discounted citizenship assistance at the worksite.

At the D.C. event, experts discussed citizenship’s benefits to immigrants and to the economy. Marizza Contreras, a legal permanent resident, shared her personal story of how the Bethlehem Project helped her overcome many of the barriers aspiring Americans face. Meanwhile in Miami, citizenship sessions at Baptist Health South Florida allowed aspiring citizens such as Dinorah Soriano to take the first step toward the “opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream” that otherwise would be out of reach.

Business leaders nationwide also have continued their push for immigration reform, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday and more than 100 businesses signing on to a letter to House leadership urging them to pass legislation to overhaul the current, broken immigration system this year. In an ad posted on the Politico website, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reissued a similar letter signed by more than 450 businesses.

Their argument was convincing: immigration reform stands to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, reduce the federal deficit by $2.7 trillion in the next ten years, revitalize cities nationwide and create a stable legal framework for businesses to flourish

The business push was joined by law enforcement officials calling for reform. In North Carolina last week, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff gathered with local faith and business leaders to discuss the importance of immigration reform. The event, hosted by Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the North Carolina Farm Bureau, drew more than 100 attendees and another 100 viewers on the livestream. Secretary Chertoff addressed the unsustainable current immigration system and highlighted the benefits of moral, commonsense reform for the faith, law enforcement and business communities.

The urgency expressed by businesses, faith leaders and law enforcement officials has made an impact on key House leadership. Earlier this week,House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) laid out the most optimistic recent timeline for immigration reform yet, calling for a vote in October.

“The House of Representatives has other issues on its plate right now, but faith, law enforcement and business leaders expect action on immigration soon,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “House members have been taking notice. They know they need to act on commonsense immigration reform that’s good for our nation’s economy, security and moral integrity.”

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