CEO Adam Lampert Quoted By Dallas Morning News on Immigration

Extending work authorization to America’s undocumented will boost the economy, advocates say

The Biden administration has expedited work permits to more than 1 million newly arrived immigrants who’ve met humanitarian criteria since 2021.

While the Texas economy soars and adds thousands of jobs each month, employers continue to run into the issue of labor. There aren’t enough workers to fill the positions required to fuel Texas’ expected growth.

Texas has 774,000 job openings and only 80 workers available for every 100 open jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Across the U.S., there are 9.5 million job openings and only 6.6 million unemployed workers.

But there’s a remedy to America’s labor problem, Texas-based advocates of immigration reform said Friday. They contend that state and national worker shortages could be ameliorated if the Biden administration permitted the country’s longtime undocumented residents to legally join the workforce. He’s already done that for more than 1 million newly arrived immigrants since 2021.

The president has used a humanitarian immigration clause in federal law to extend temporary protected status at a historic scale, welcoming hundreds of thousands of immigrants fleeing conflict in Ukraine and Afghanistan and upheavals in nations like Venezuela and Haiti. That enables them to apply for a work permit.

It’s a fast-track offer to finding stability in the U.S. that undocumented people have long hoped would be extended to them.

North Texas community and business leaders gathered Friday in search of solutions to grow the state’s economy, address workforce shortages and keep immigrant families together.

A future without the opportunity for work in the U.S. has pushed Oscar Silva back to school.

He came to the U.S. from Mexico at 2 years old and didn’t understand until his teenage years that being undocumented excluded him from such milestones as obtaining a driver’s license or working a summer internship. He didn’t receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status before it was rescinded in 2017.

As he completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, he realized he’d have no way to use it without a work permit. So he’s enrolled in a master’s degree program in economics starting in the summer.

Without eligible workers, Texas employers like Adam Lampert have seen their costs go up, which in turn raises prices for his customers. The head of Cambridge Caregivers, a home health service in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where roughly 80% of the staff are foreign-born workers, said tight labor markets have led to nearly 30% higher rates than the company charged five years ago.

“I’ll wager that you are paying the price for failed immigration policies,” Lampert said. “You can see that immigration policy affects our economy directly. Not dealing with immigration causes higher costs for all of us on a day-to-day basis.”

With the retirement of baby boomers, the aging U.S. workforce and the falling birth rate, all U.S. labor force growth is expected to be from immigration after 2040, Orrenius said in February at an economic outlook event.

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