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As a border business owner, I write to ask you to support comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) with a path to citizenship that invests in ports of entry rather than the $46 billion “Border Surge.” An immigration law that includes a pathway to citizenship would bring enormous economic benefits to our communities. Legalizing hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants will bring them out of the shadows and into the formal economy as consumers of new products that were not accessible without legal status. Additionally, immigrants will be able to participate in economic activities that will increase their personal income and pay additional taxes.
According to the Center for American Progress, a research institute for public policy, Texas alone will add 21,000 annual jobs if CIR becomes law. Moreover, the earnings of immigrants over the next decade will bring an additional $6.5 billion in state and local taxes. On the other hand, the cost of keeping undocumented immigrants in the informal economy is estimated at $77.7 billion of the gross state product. As for the young, vibrant undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, also known as Dreamers, their potential economic impact is estimated to reach $66 billion by 2030.
At the end of this past June, the Senate approved its version of CIR (SB744). While the bill includes many good provisions, there is a section that is troubling for our border communities. The so-called “Border Surge” would throw $46 billion for additional fences, surveillance equipment, drones, and patrols.
If this “Border Surge” is not taken out of the bill, any economic benefit brought about by immigration reform may not reach the Valley. Doubling Border Patrol could paralyze economic activity in commercial centers, where fear of agents would keep people home. At the same time, spending billions of dollars on more walls and drones sends a strong message to our economic partners across the border: we don’t want you.
Instead, we need investment in our ports of entry, through which $2.3 trillion in trade crossed last year. While apprehensions along the border are at an historic low, wait lines at ports of entry average more than an hour. It is estimated that for each minute of delay, the U.S. economy loses $116 million. In 2008, these delays cost the U.S. economy nearly 26,000 jobs. With much of our economic security dependent on partners in Mexico, these losses hit the Valley hardest.
Please support CIR with a path to citizenship that invests in ports of entry rather than the $46 billion “Border Surge.” Your leadership can make a difference for border businesses.