LOS ANGELES – Please attribute the following statement on the potential economic impact of immigration policy currently under debate in Congress to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):
“The Congress must act immediately to preserve America’s workforce or risk severe damage to the national economy and the prospect of significant inflation that would erode worker’s spending power. Protecting work authorization and in-country presence for immigrant youth, including current and former recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and for holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), is essential for our nation’s economic progress. Our economy has been at virtual full employment since the Obama Administration, and the Congress recently passed a spending plan of increased expenditures that should further stimulate employment. This is not the time to remove over 1 million workers from America’s economy. Yet that is precisely what a congressional or presidential failure to protect these immigrant workers from removal and failure to ensure their continued work authorization would do.
Protecting Dreamers and TPSers is therefore an essential element of responsible economic policy. Protection of our economy should not be held hostage to an only arguably related, but frankly separate, immigration enforcement agenda.
Our immigration system has gaping flaws, not least of which is a racially discriminatory national origin quotas system, and those flaws should be addressed in a debate and policymaking exercise that addresses enforcement concerns as well. That debate should include the well-supported recognition that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants come to this country for compelling reasons that deserve respect consistent with our national and constitutional principles. But securing our national workforce by preserving Dreamers and TPSers within that workforce should not be conflated with a broader immigration debate.
Under basic legal principles, youth who arrived as minors are not to be held responsible for acts that they did not control. And American law long ago deemed the entry of TPSers acceptable based on the severe conditions in the countries from which they arrived. Thus, protecting these two groups of immigrants – who have been legally employed in this country for many years – should not be conflated with anyone’s views or aspirations on immigration enforcement.
MALDEF urges the Senate, House, and White House to act immediately to protect immigrant youth and TPS holders as a matter of workforce preservation and economic policy. Do not conflate these critical measures with a needed and appropriate broader debate on immigration reform.”