A bipartisan group of Oregon civic leaders held an immigration reform Day of Action on Wednesday (August 3, 2016), calling on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
“We may not agree on everything, but we can agree that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. We can embrace people from all walks of life, and value their contributions to our communities and our economy,” said Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (D-Portland). “So, today, I urge Oregon’s federal delegation and elected leaders across the country to keep pushing for sensible, comprehensive immigration reform.”
Accompanying the event was the release of a new report, The Contributions of New Americans in Oregon, which shows how immigrants help to keep the American economy strong and vital, both as workers and as entrepreneurs.
”When we’re looking for top of mind issues for most members of our association, the first thing most of them will tell you is labor,” said OAN President Leigh Geschwill, owner of F & B Farms & Nursery. “We have members who would grow 20 percent (in the current market), but due to the labor issue they can only grow 2 percent.”
Similar events were held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Oregon’s event was coordinated by the Partnership for a New American Economy (NAE) and the Oregon Association of Nurseries. Those represented at the event elected officials from both sides of the aisle, as well as the business, labor, faith and education communities.
Other speakers included OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone, State Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-NE and SE Portland), Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville), and Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa.
Davis noted that immigrants “punch above their weight class as entrepreneurs.” He added that due to immigration laws, the students who come here to learn in critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are not always able to stay and invest their newly gained knowledge. “We need comprehensive immigration reform that brings qualified workers, the best and the brightest, to Oregon to fill the needs that we have,” he said.
Dembrow serves on a national task force of legislators addressing immigration. “I’ve leanred that many of the myths that are out there about immigrants and refugees are simply wrong,” he said. He mentioned that the employment rate for immigrants is higher than the general population, that immigrants are generally healthier, and that they have lower crime, arrest and incarceration rates than the U.S.-born population.
Supporters are urged to log on to www.reasonforreform.org and show their support for immigration reform, so that elected officials know reform is wanted and needed.