‘We Must take Action’-Gov. JB Pritzker

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsGovernor JB Pritzker and Senator Richard Durbin lent their voices last week to push for long-term solutions for the undocumented immigrant community during a press conference. Joining members of the IL Congressional Delegation, business and immigrant community leaders, Gov. Pritzker and Sen. Durbin urged President Biden to use existing legal authority to expand work authorizations for the undocumented community.

Governor JB Pritzker spoke to the value of having immigrants as part of our communities, saying: “Here in Illinois and throughout the nation, critical industries are facing labor shortages that impact our consumers, businesses, and economy. That’s why we’re calling on the federal government to expand pathways to work authorization for asylum seekers and other non-citizens. We must take action to tap into the incredible value that immigrants bring to our workforce and help our new neighbors build better lives for themselves and their families.”

The proposed expansion of work permits for immigrants who do not have authorization would not require an Act of Congress. It is allowed under current law if doing so would provide a “significant public benefit,” and ending the labor shortage would benefit the nation by increasing productivity and stemming inflation. Bipartisan Governors, Democratic members of Congress, state attorneys general, business leaders and employers, and immigration groups have signed letters or publicly stated their ask of President Biden to use existing law to expand workforce authorization for immigrants.

“I’m grateful to stand with fellow Members of Congress, business leaders, and immigrant community leaders to push for immigration reform today,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “Like Illinois, many states are facing the challenges presented by a labor shortage crisis. In fact, Republican and Democratic governors alike – including Governor Pritzker – are pushing for the Biden Administration to create a state-sponsored parole program. States should have a say in how immigration can make our economies stronger, not just bureaucrats in Washington. I’ll keep doing my part and pressing for immigration reform in Congress and the executive branch, and I won’t stop until it gets done.”

About 14 percent of Illinois’ total population are immigrants, and immigrants make up about 16 percent of the state’s workforce, with Chicagoland immigrants making up nearly 30 percent of all business owners. Immigrants also greatly contribute to Illinois’ food and hospitality industry, representing more than 20 percent of its workforce. Additionally, 395,000 U.S. citizens in Illinois live with at least one undocumented family member, and undocumented immigrants made up five percent of Illinois’s workforce in 2016.

“President Biden must act to expand workforce authorization to the long-term undocumented, as well as to new arrivals,” said Raul Raymundo, CEO of The Resurrection Project. “Many individuals in Chicago’s Mexican community as well as from many other communities have toiled for years, even decades, building equity in this country and sustaining our economy. They include Dreamers without DACA, workers across every industry, and spouses of U.S. citizens.”

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