LIVE STREAMING
"Home is Here" sign outside of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
"Home is Here" sign outside of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

How would the American Dream and Promise Act benefit immigrants in Pennsylvania?

Pressure is mounting across the state for its congressional reps to back the immigration reform.

MORE IN THIS SECTION

Political crisis in Peru

December 7th, 2022

O’Rourke’s Second Shot

December 7th, 2022

SCOTUS Tackles Elections

December 7th, 2022

U.S. Senate Gains

December 7th, 2022

LULAC sues Houston

December 6th, 2022

DCCC Spends Big

December 6th, 2022

A Debt on Plastic Pollution

December 5th, 2022

Krasner Sues

December 5th, 2022

SHARE THIS CONTENT:

The state of Pennsylvania is home to about 890,000 immigrants, according to 2019 data from the research and advocacy organization New American Economy. During that year, these residents paid about $9.9 billion in taxes and accounted for $24.9 billion in spending power.

Economic health and continued growth in the pandemic recovery period is one of the many reasons why Pittsburgh activists have joined the call for the U.S. Senate to quickly pass expansive immigration reform legislation. 

Pittsburgh residents and members of advocacy groups know how valuable the immigrant population is to their communities and to the overall economic well being of Pennsylvania. 

During a panel on Monday, June 7, the state director with Americans for Prosperity, Ashley Klingensmith, commented on this truth with a simple, yet powerful statement. 

“When immigrants work alongside citizens, we all end up benefiting,” Klingensmith said. 

The statistics speak for themselves. Immigrants have contributed the most to the U.S as both essential workers and small business owners

According to New American Economy’s data, more than 222,000 immigrants in PA were homeowners in 2019. PA colleges and universities also had about 50,070 international students attending them. 

Additionally, there were more than 62,000 immigrant entrepreneurs who accounted for $1.7 billion in income.

One of these entrepreneurs is 30-year-old Jacqueline Romero, who moved to the U.S. from El Salvador when she was eight years old. 

Romero now lives in York, PA and runs a real estate business with her mother. Together, they manage 10 rental properties and four homes on the market. 

Romero and her mom are able to legally work in the states due to a temporary permit program, but are required to reapply about every two years. 

On Monday, June 7, the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual panel discussion, where Romero advocated for federal legislation that would create pathways to citizenship for immigrants in the workforce. 

“We can’t continue asking folks like myself and my mom to keep renewing their permits,” she was quoted as saying in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

She said Pennsylvania has become her home, and her and other PA immigrant workers “can’t wait any longer” to live the way they have earned and deserved. 

Romero is one of the many activists in Pittsburgh and across the state calling for federal lawmakers to pass the American Dream and Promise Act. 

The American Dream and Promise Act would offer a clear pathway to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship for certain immigrants who have been learning or working in the U.S.

It would also apply to individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The designation allows individuals to remain in the states for a short period of time.

Romero’s TPS status along with her mother’s  allowed them the stability to start their business, but the risk of becoming business owners is not one most immigrants are able to take, she said. 

A spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is a supporter of the Act and is pushing for immigration reform. 

“Pennsylvania is fueled by the work of the undocumented immigrant community, as well as the rest of the Hispanic community. We want to work. We want to create. We want to contribute,” said Melanie Boyer, a small business owner and director of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

Agriculture is one of Pennsylvania’s biggest industries, and according to Peter Gray, a mushroom farmer from Chester County, immigration reform is needed to fill in the gaps that the domestic workforce can’t plug.

Gray estimates that about 75% of the state’s mushroom farming workforce is Hispanic. He employs about 900 people on his farm, but like many of his colleagues, he struggles to find workers. 

“That narrative where immigrants are taking American jobs, at least in the produce sector, is just not true. We can’t find anybody to do the job,” he said to the Post Gazette.

Speaking about the immigrant workers he has employed on the farm, Gray said that they have come here to build a better life for themselves and their families. 

“Why not give them a chance?,” Gray said. 

  • LEAVE A COMMENT:

  • Join the discussion! Leave a comment.

  • or
  • REGISTER
  • to comment.
  • LEAVE A COMMENT:

  • Join the discussion! Leave a comment.

  • or
  • REGISTER
  • to comment.
00:00 / 00:00
Ads destiny link