PALMDALE – Local business leaders are joining business, labor, and community groups across the state in sending this unified message to Congress: Get back to work on comprehensive immigration reform!
“We saw both our Lancaster and Palmdale City Councils pass resolutions urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, so the time is now,” said former Palmdale Chamber of Commerce President Sandy Corrales-Eneix. “Today, on the first day that Congress is back from its summer recess, we ask Congressman McKeon and McCarthy in particular… to get back to work and make sure that immigration reform is a priority.”
At a press conference Monday, a diverse group of business and community leaders spoke about how comprehensive immigration reform would impact the Antelope Valley.
Xavier Flores, President of the Antelope Valley Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), cited a recent Department of Justice report that concluded in part that Latinos were racially profiled by local law enforcement and received a disproportionate amount of “contempt of cop” arrests (read more on the DOJ report here). Flores said comprehensive immigration reform would likely relieve many of the anxieties suffered by the local undocumented immigrant population.
“Our community is walking the streets in fear,” Flores said. “We’re afraid that our parents are going to be taken, we’re afraid that our cars are going to be confiscated, and we’re going to be left without transportation.”
If current legislation is passed creating a path to legalization for 11 million undocumented immigrants, there will be millions of new homeowners, said Marco Henriquez, President of the Antelope Valley Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.
“Studies show that about three million of those immigrants will become homeowners in the next five years,” Henriquez said. “We’re looking at income of about $25 billion in mortgage origination income, $28 billion in real estate transactions, more than $500 billion in new mortgages, and an average of $180 billion in homeownership-related consumer spending.”
Comprehensive immigration reform would also yield many new local business owners, other speakers said.
“[Undocumented immigrants] want to start a business, they want to create jobs, they want to better their community just as we are doing now,” said Roxana Martinez, who owns Lucky Roxy’s Café in Palmdale.
“The sad part is that because they are undocumented, they lack the opportunity… I just see that as a really unfortunate situation because there are so many empty buildings here. There’s so much potential in the Valley,” Martinez said.
“My parents have never missed a day of work since they came to this country 20 years ago, and I think it’s time for Congress to get back to work,” said Cesar Miguel Vega Magallon, of the Antelope Valley Dream Team, a local group of undocumented students, workers and allies.
“The business community stands behind us, the religious community stands behind us, all we need is a vote on citizenship and we need one now,” Magallon continued.
“Congress, what are you waiting for? Let’s get back to work, help our economy, let skilled workers into America, bring 11 million people out of the shadows, and pass this comprehensive immigration reform bill,” said Lee Rogers, Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 25th district.
Monday’s press conference, which took place at Poncitlan Square in Palmdale, was one of 11 events across the state calling on House members to put immigration reform with a path to citizenship at the top of their agenda for action this session. Other speakers at the press conference included Antonio Bernabe of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Marv Wilk of Greater Valley Immigration, Citizenship and Education Services, Oscar Valladares of SEIU Local 721, and Ramon Alcan of the California Table for Immigration Reform.
The group is urging Antelope Valley business owners to sign a petition addressed to Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon that emphasizes the economic importance of immigration reform and urges the congressman to vote on a pathway to citizenship. Fixing our broken immigration system will reduce federal deficits by about $200 billion over the next 10 years, and about $700 billion in the second decade, states the petition, which cites statistics from the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO). View the petition here.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included an additional comment from Xavier Flores, which was removed because the statistics were inaccurate.
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