The Latino community has been hoping and praying for the approval of immigration reform, a way out of the shadows, a way to have legal presence. Many have dedicated endless hours advocating with legislators, pastors, and persons with political influence, to no avail.
On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced two executive actions on immigration. Both executive orders established a low deportation priority for specific individuals in the country. The first announcement was that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would not deport certain undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and parents of lawful permanent residents.President Obama also announced an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for youth who came to the United States as children.
Despite the fact that up to 4.4 million parents and youth would benefit by receiving a work permit and temporary permission to stay in the U.S., executive action on immigration has not been realized. On Feb. 16, 2015 U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas' Brownsville Division, ruled to temporary block President Obama’s executive action. While this lawsuit is pending appeal, executive action will not be implemented on May 19th, as originally planned. We cannot afford to wait any longer for executive action. These programs would not only benefit the 4.4 million individuals given deferred action, but also benefit the entire country. Everywhere you look you find the positive economic impact of Latinos. In a recent interview, the Director of the Small Business Administration cited a report that immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy report titled "The 'New American' Fortune 500," immigrants drive the economy. The report noted the immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies employ 3.6 million workers worldwide, but the rate increases to more than 10 million when accounting businesses founded by children of immigrants.
The economic impact of the Latino community is enormous! Immigrants are twice as likely to start a business; they're twice as likely to file a patent. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants employ 1 out of every 10 employees. It is important to recognize the contributions that immigrant populations are making and the positive impact that would be unleashed.
Latinos are the fastest growing population in the country, and this is the moment to be inclusive. We need to realize that the millions of hardworking parents and families cannot continue to wait. Our community cannot continue to wait; we must support executive action on immigration now.
Wilfredo León is the publisher of the Latino Newspaper.
Op-ed publicado en Greenville News y sometido a The State y Post and Courier