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VIDEO: Foster Highlights Contributions Of Immigrants, Economic Benefits Of Immigration Reform

Sep 19, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC—Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) joined a discussion following Citizenship Day highlight the important contributions that immigrants make to our nation and our economy, and the economic benefits of passing comprehensive immigration reform.

Video of the speech is available here.

The full text is below:

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to rise today to highlight the many important contributions that immigrants make to our nation and our economy, to our scientific progress and to say a few special words on the positive impact that comprehensive immigration reform will have on the real estate market in our country.

We are a nation of immigrants.

Many of us are second or third generation Americans, and we have all benefitted from the sacrifices that our ancestors made in search of a better life in America.

In fact, my wife is a first-generation Asian-American, who came to the United States to pursue her education, and was able to become a legal immigrant and a citizen, and a PhD  in fact, but who knows that even our legal immigration system does not work as well as it should.

Every day, families come to this country in search of the American dream -- better jobs, better education and a better life for their families.

I am proud to represent many of these families, but would like to share just one incredible story of one of my constituents, Juventino Cano.

Growing up, Juventino lived on a farm in Colima, Mexico with his parents and six brothers and sisters. Their home didn’t have lights or electricity, and they all worked long hours on the family farm to make ends meet.

When he was seventeen years old, his step-brothers encouraged him to come to Aurora, Illinois, and told him about the wonderful opportunities that awaited him in America.

He was able to get a job with his stepbrothers at a packaging company.

By 1986, Juventino not only held a steady job and had learned English, but he had opened his own company, Cano Container Corporation, in Aurora, Illinois.

What started with a single machine and three employees has now grown into a company with over $20 million a year in annual sales.

Today, not only is Juventino the President and CEO of the Cano Container Company, but he has also served on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as the President of the Board of Directors of the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The Cano Container Company has also received its share of accolades, including being named the Minority Manufacturer of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2007.

The city and the economy of Aurora, Illinois, have greatly benefited from Juventino’s many contributions to the community.

His story reminds us that immigration reform is good for economic growth.

More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. These American companies represent 7 of the 10 most valuable brands in the world, and collectively employ more than 10 million people and generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion.  That’s a quarter of our economy.

Additionally, immigrants have a huge impact on our housing market and passage of comprehensive immigration reform will have a huge positive impact on our still recovering real estate markets.

A study from Harvard University found that in recent years foreign-born households accounted for 30% of the overall growth in the housing sector.

According to the 2012 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, it is likely that comprehensive immigration reform would generate 3 million new Hispanic homebuyers over the next several years.

Every day that we fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform we are forfeiting millions of dollars in economic growth and tax revenue and slowing the recovery of our housing markets.

If we passed immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, it would increase state and local tax collections by almost $150 million a year in Illinois alone.

On the other hand, if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Illinois, the state would lose $25.6 billion in economic activity, $11.4 billion in gross state product, and approximately 120,000 jobs.

As a scientist, I have also seen first-hand the valuable contributions that immigrants make.

For 20 years I worked as a physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Illinois.

Every day, the flags from dozens of countries flew outside the facilities – representing the nationalities of all the scientists performing experiments at Fermilab.

Thousands of students from other countries have come to the US to get their PhDs and training at our research facilities. And it has been the policy of our country to turn most of them away when the work is done and their education is complete.

While this may have made sense in the years after WWII, when we were trying to avoid a brain drain from countries trying to rebuild themselves, times have changed.

The economic winds now blow in both directions.

We need to stop pushing our accomplished scientists and researchers out of our country and instead encourage them to stay here to build businesses, expand their research and help grow our economy.

The comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate does just that – it encourages the best and the brightest scientists and researchers to stay here and add to our economy and our R&D capabilities.

So as we contemplate a pathway to citizenship for the eleven million undocumented immigrants and consider reforming our legal immigration system, let’s remember all of the contributions immigrants, past and present, have made to this country.

Our nation has a long and proud history of welcoming immigrants in search of a better life for themselves and their families, but our current immigration system is broken. 

We now have a historic opportunity to bring eleven million people out of the shadows.

We have to remember that at any moment we are just 5 days away from passing immigration reform and having it be the law of the land.

All it will take is for Speaker Boehner to wake up one morning and listen to the voices of his church, listen to the voices of the Chambers of Commerce, listen to the voices of business and ordinary people all over this country and decide to bring the Senate immigration bill up for a vote, where it will pass with a bipartisan majority and be signed into law by the president. 

This would be an historic moment and exactly the kind of bipartisanship that people expect from their elected representatives.

So if and when Speaker Boehner decides to act, and allow the house a vote to pass the Senate immigration bill, we would boost our economy, including our real estate markets, and reduce our national debt and most importantly bring 11 million people out of the shadows. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Thank you, and I’m happy to yield back.