El Paso Business Leaders Urge Protections For Undocumented Immigrants Brought To The Country As Children

Texas chambers of commerce and business leaders around the state, including some of the biggest companies in El Paso, are calling on Congress to establish a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” people who were brought to the country illegally as children.

Woody Hunt, senior chairman of El Paso-based Hunt Companies, and Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, joined other members of the Texas Opportunity Coalition and U.S. Rep. Henry Cueller, D-Texas, for an online discussion of those efforts.

They presented new data showing the significant economic impact that immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, are having in Texas.

For cities, states and the country, economic expansion is based on the growth and productivity of the workforce, Hunt said in an interview before the virtual event.

“Immigration policy is at the heart of both of those,” he said. “In the last 20 years, 50% of the increase of our workforce in the country has come from immigration.

“On the productivity side, you’ve got 11 million people here that we have put constraints on as far as getting a driver’s license, schooling and work mobility. That’s not a policy for productivity.”

Opponents say the DACA program rewards people for breaking the law, encourages illegal immigration and hurts American workers.

The Dream and Promise Act approved by the U.S. House in March and pending in the Senate would provide permanent protection, legal residence and eventual citizenship to more than 4 million “Dreamers” who meet certain conditions.

“Dreamers are a key economic cornerstone to our nation’s economy, especially here in Texas and most importantly, in our border community of El Paso-Juárez with over 9,000 Dreamers who play an integral role in our businesses,” Ramos-Davidson said.

ne of those El Paso immigrants is Itzel Campos, whose parents brought her and her brother to the United States from Torreon, Mexico, in 2001.

By David Crowder for EL PASO MATTERS
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