Local business leaders cite billions in tax contributions and economic growth as they ask Congress to act now

Omaha / Lincoln, NE — Today, the Greater Omaha Chamber and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce are among 60 chambers of commerce from 26 states calling on Congressional leadership to pass the Dream and Promise Act to give a path to citizenship to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. In an open letter, the business leaders recognize the important role these immigrant populations play in keeping our workforce young and competitive, contributing to the tax base, and creating jobs for all Americans.

“Dreamers and TPS holders here in Nebraska are major contributors to our economic success,” said Wendy Birdsall, President of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. “Congress must act to allow these hardworking individuals to remain in our communities, to everyone’s benefit.”

David G. Brown, president and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber, focused on the need for talent across the country, “Progress depends on everyone. Nebraska’s demographic shift points to an even more important role in our economy for Dreamers and TPS holders who pay taxes, earn college degrees and professional certifications. They are talented and committed individuals and integral to our shared growth.”

“Dreamers and TPS holders shouldn’t have to pay the price for the gridlock in Washington,” said Rich André, Deputy Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “It’s time for Congress to do what makes sense for our businesses and for our communities.”

Given the uncertainty surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and TPS programs, chambers are calling on Congress to pass a permanent solution now. According to research by New American Economy (NAE), Dreamers make significant contributions to the Nebraska economy. There are over 150,000 DACA-eligible individuals in our state who earn $3.8 billion in total income annually and contribute more than $949 million in total taxes annually, $344 million of which goes to state and local tax revenue.

See the full text of the letter below:

May 30, 2019
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:

As business leaders representing our nation’s most important industries and regional economies, we are committed to promoting economic growth and job creation for all Americans. From manufacturing to agriculture, and from Main Street to Fortune 500 companies, the United States economy relies on our diverse, talented workforce to drive the country forward. That is why we are calling on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to create permanent protections for Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). These protections would allow immigrants in our communities and across the country to continue to pursue their education, contribute to our labor force and tax base, and start new businesses that create jobs.

Nationwide, there are 1.25 million Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children—who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. At the same time, 318,000 immigrants nationwide hold TPS protections that allow them to work in the United States, rather than facing life-threatening instability in their home countries. The current administration has attempted to terminate both programs, and while legal challenges have kept the programs alive for now, these immigrants could soon face deportation, often after decades in the United States. These immigrants are driving economic growth in our communities.

According to New American Economy, individuals eligible for DACA together earn $23 billion in total household income each year and contribute $4 billion of that income to federal, state, and local taxes that keep our metro areas moving. TPS holders, hailing from countries like El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras, are making similarly important contributions: Overall, this population holds $5.8 billion in spending power and the majority have lived in the United States for 20 years. Ninety-three percent of DACA-eligible immigrants and 94 percent of TPS holders were employed in 2017.

Deporting these community members—including workers and employers, consumers and homeowners—would not only be devastating to families but also to local economies. Data from the Cato Institute estimates that deporting individuals who already have DACA status would cost the federal government over $60 billion, with an additional $280 billion in lost economic growth over the next decade. Deporting TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti alone would cost taxpayers $3.1 billion. With national unemployment at near-record lows, this is a scenario we simply cannot afford.

While federal court injunctions are keeping DACA and TPS protections on life support, the uncertainty around these programs is preventing our immigrant neighbors from realizing their potential—as doctors, teachers, engineers, or entrepreneurs—to everyone’s detriment. There are several proposals to protect DACA and TPS, including the American Dream and Promise Act in the House and the Dream Act and the SECURE Act in the Senate. Americans of all kinds agree that a solution is necessary.

As chambers of commerce, we cannot allow politics to stand in the way of economic growth. That is why last month, nearly 20 chambers of commerce from major metros across the country convened in Los Angeles to discuss the importance of immigration to our metro areas and build our agenda on this issue moving forward. But only Congress has the power to enact a real solution. We call on you to pass a bipartisan deal to protect DACA and TPS holders now.

Our industries need that deal—and it will also lay the groundwork for the type of broader, commonsense immigration reforms that we need to compete globally. It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and do the right thing for our young people and for our economy. Our businesses and our communities depend on it.

Sincerely,

Ames Chamber of Commerce

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

Dallas Regional Chamber

Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce (Arkansas)

Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce

Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Fresno Chamber of Commerce

Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition

Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

Greater Des Moines Partnership

Greater Houston Partnership

Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

Greater Louisville Inc.

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce

Greater Omaha Chamber

Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce

Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce

Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Lancaster Chamber

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce

Longview Chamber of Commerce

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce

Miramar Pembroke Pines Regional Chamber of Commerce

MPLS Regional Chamber

Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

North Dallas Chamber of Commerce

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Pembroke Park/West Park Chamber of Commerce

Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce

RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Salt Lake Chamber

Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce

San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

San Antonio Hispanic Chamber

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce

Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce

St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Silicon Valley Organization

Texas Association of Business

Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers

United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce

Weston Florida Chamber of Commerce

CONTACTS:
Jill Bruckner, Communications/PR Manager, Greater Omaha Chamber
woehpxare@bznunpunzore.bet (402) 978-7920

Chris Whitney, Communications Coordinator, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce
pjuvgarl@ypbp.pbz (402) 436-2376