by Ulises Silva
Photos by: Jan Terry – Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
How big of an impact would integrating 11 million undocumented immigrants into the national economy have? Big enough that a group of bipartisan business leaders, business groups, trade associations, and immigrant rights groups came together to form the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) to aggressively push both parties of Congress to pass common sense immigration reform. IBIC officially announced its formation on April 2, 2013 at a press event with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., a Fortune 500® company headquartered in Illinois.
“Comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue,” said Mayor Emanuel at the event. “It’s time to put partisanship aside and focus on the economic contributions that immigrants have made through our history in building our urban centers and strengthening our economy.”
IBIC is making the strong case that comprehensive immigration reform will provide a vital influx of both high-skilled and low-skilled talent necessary to keep American companies competitive.
“Providing consistent, reliable access to both high-skilled and low-skilled talent,” said Mr. Oberhelman, “is critical to sustain our nation’s global competitiveness in many industries including healthcare, technology, manufacturing, hospitality, and tourism. We need reform that will provide opportunities for immigrants and foreign students to enter the U.S. and our workforce legally, attracting and keeping the best, the brightest, and the hard working.”
IBIC made an even stronger case that integrating 11 million undocumented immigrants will have a real boon on the national economy. According to a study released by the Immigration Policy Center and Center for American Progress, comprehensive immigration reform will stimulate the U.S. economy by:
- Increasing the national GDP by at least 0.84 percent, translating into at least a $1.5 trillion cumulative increase in GDP over 10 years, which includes approximately $1.2 trillion in consumption and $256 billion in investment.
- Increasing spending power that would then increase tax revenues from $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in the first three years.
- Increasing personal income and consumer spending, enough to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs in the U.S.
- Increasing the number of people who open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses, further stimulating the U.S. economy.
“This has never just been a moral or social justice issue, it has always had economic implications as well,” said Raul Raymundo, CEO of The Resurrection Project, Co-chair of IBIC, and the emcee for the press conference. “Immigration reform is no longer an option, it’s a necessity for our local economies to once again prosper.”
Moving forward, members of IBIC plan to use their significant influence to endorse immigration reform that will provide Illinois companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent that they need, and promote the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs with a path to full citizenship.
“Our economy is in need of a comprehensive approach that addresses an immigration system which is no longer meeting the labor needs of American businesses,” said Dave Bender, Executive Director, American Director of American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois and an IBIC Co-Chair. “We need a system that will allow small, medium, and larger businesses to remain globally competitive.”
The members of IBIC feel that they are in a strong position to advocate for this new system.
“IBIC,” says Raymundo, “is a unique alliance of businesses and immigrant advocacy groups that will pave the way for legislators to finally make immigration reform a reality.”