America’s biggest companies urged Congress on Wednesday to establish a permanent path to citizenship for “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
The move comes as President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress look to immigration as one of their next major legislative priorities.
In a letter, a coalition of more than 100 companies and trade associations asked Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to pass the bipartisan Dream Act of 2021.
“Continued delay or inaction will cause significant negative economic and social impact on businesses and hundreds of thousands of deserving young people across the country,” the coalition said in the letter first seen by CNBC.
Democrats on Feb. 18 unveiled a comprehensive immigration reform package backed by Biden that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants with an expedited process for Dreamers.
The sweeping bill faces an uphill battle in Congress as Democrats hold thin majorities in both chambers. The legislation would require a minimum of 10 Republican votes to defeat a Senate filibuster and move the bill to a final vote.
The White House and the bill’s sponsors acknowledge the possibility of a piecemeal approach to passing immigration legislation. Lawmakers and advocates point to the Dream Act as a potential stand-alone bill that could garner bipartisan support.
The bill was introduced in 2001 and reintroduced on Feb. 4 by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. It would provide a pathway to permanent legal residence and eventually citizenship for some young, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
In 2012, President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program after the Dream Act failed to pass in Congress several times. DACA protects the young undocumented immigrants who would be covered by the Dream Act from deportation but does not provide a path to citizenship.
DACA recipients working at some of the companies in the coalition are also meeting virtually with Senators and staff on Wednesday to push for support of the Dream Act.
About three-quarters of Americans support granting permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, according to a Pew Research Center survey in June.
— CNBC’s Ylan Mui contributed to this report.
Read the letter and the list of signatories below:
Dear Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell:
The Coalition for the American Dream is an organization of business leaders representing every major sector of the U.S. economy and more than half of American private sector workers.
Our more than 100 top companies and trade associations also proudly employ thousands of Dreamers who were brought to this country as children and raised as Americans. As you know, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently reintroduced the bipartisan Dream Act of 2021 (S.264) which would provide a permanent legislative solution for these young people and end the limbo they have been in for years. If passed, this bill would give them the long-overdue opportunity to apply for lawful permanent resident status and eventually citizenship if they continue to meet certain requirements.
This important legislation has our strong support and we ask that you and your colleagues consider and pass it in the immediate weeks ahead. Poll after poll has shown that overwhelming majorities of Americans in both political parties support Dreamers. They are critical members of our workforce, industries, and communities, and they have abided by the laws and regulations of our country in order to qualify under the conditions set forth in the Dream Act. They are vital to our nation’s strength, especially now when tens of thousands of them are currently working as essential front-line personnel fighting COVID-19.
Studies by economists across the ideological spectrum also have determined that if Congress fails to act, our economy could lose $350 billion in GDP, and the federal government could lose $90 billion in tax revenue. Continued delay or inaction will cause significant negative economic and social impact on businesses and hundreds of thousands of deserving young people across the country.
Thank you, in advance, for your consideration, and we hope you will work together to move this important bipartisan legislation.
The Coalition for the American Dream
National Retail Federation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
National Association of Manufacturers
National Council of Chain Restaurants
Levi Strauss & Co
American Hotel & Lodging Association
InterContinental Hotels Group
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Johnson & Johnson
The Association of Chief Human Resource Officers
Ernst & Young
Host Hotels & Resorts
MGM Resorts International
Consumer Technology Association
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Essential Worker Immigration Coalition
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
American Council on Education
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Society for Human Resource Management
National Milk Producers Federation
Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association
Latinx Startup Alliance
Information Technology Industry Council
Council for Global Immigration
National Imigration Forum
National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals
Association of American Universities
American Immigration Lawyers Association
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
TESOL International Association
Wasserman & Associates