As a young man in my native Venezuela, I was kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas and detained for two weeks. Shortly after, I left the country due to persistent threats.
I was lucky enough to settle in Evansville, where I immediately felt accepted and welcomed. I was able to complete my mechanical engineering degree, start a family, and start a business, but many immigrants did not enjoy the benefits of legal status like I was.
That’s why I think Congress should include pathways to citizenship for dreamers, temporary protected status holders, farm laborers, and essential workers in the pending budget reconciliation bill. . This action is urgently needed, morally just, good for business and politically smart.
I am a staunch Republican who voted for Donald Trump twice. There is a misconception that Trump supporters want to deport all immigrants. Research shows this stereotype to be wrong.
A recent bipartisan battlefield poll of voters found 3: 1 support for including citizenship pathways for undocumented immigrants in the budget reconciliation bill, given the contributions economic aspects of these immigrants. Support was widespread across the political spectrum, from Democrats, Independents and Republicans, including the majority of Trump voters and self-identified conservatives.
Only a small number of Trump voters (17%) said deportations should be the priority to fix our failing immigration system. If up to 83% of Trump supporters like me think there are better solutions than deportations, then Republicans in Congress should join in on some common sense immigration reform.
I would have loved to see a bipartite compromise on immigration. The American Business Immigration Coalition, of which I am a member, held 54 meetings with Republican and Democratic senators to reach a bipartisan agreement, but Republican senators backed away. Now, as Democrats complete their budget process, we need to make sure common sense immigration solutions are included. Whatever it takes, immigration reform is urgent.
As a business owner, I can tell you that everyone in Indiana and across the country will benefit. If Congress opens avenues for citizenship, it will increase our gross domestic product, spur job growth, and raise the wages of all Hoosiers. According to an analysis by FWD.us, legalization and citizenship will increase economic activity by $ 121 billion per year, including $ 31 billion per year in federal, state and local tax revenues.
As a conservative Republican, I support smart border management coupled with a path to legalization for our Dreamers, farm workers, and essential workers. We know how to strike a balance between sensible border solutions and our economy’s urgent need for workers.
Immigration reform will play an immediate key role in addressing our devastating national labor shortage. America has 10.4 million open jobs, of which approximately 175,000 are in Indiana. Small business owners I know and employers in almost every industry struggle to find skilled workers.
It is immoral that our elected leaders keep undocumented migrants in a legal vacuum. As Congress has focused on immigration for 35 years, a generation of children has grown up fearful that their parents will be deported. Even when families are torn apart, those who stay love this country and do all they can to contribute to their communities. They are good, hard-working people, the kind we as fellow Americans should wish.
Now is the time for Congress to act. We can use the Democrats’ reconciliation bill to accomplish something that is both pro-family and pro-business. President Biden’s framework and the House version of the bill included immigration reform. Now it’s up to Senate Democrats to do their part.
Vidal owns Vidal Plastics in Evansville, a custom blender producing thermoplastic resins, and is a member of the American Business Immigration Coalition.