Texas economy

Commentary: The Texas Economy Needs Immigrants

We hire. Job offer, apply inside. No experience required. Join our team. Looking for a rewarding career? These words are seen everywhere in today’s business environment.

Businesses need employees to succeed and keep their doors open. The economic conditions of the past two years as our community battled the coronavirus have only amplified the hiring challenges facing Texas employers. Job postings in our state are at record highs, with approximately 46,000 job postings in San Antonio. Yet our community also experiences extremely low unemployment rates. How to explain this discrepancy?

We lack a pool of talent to fill the positions of today and tomorrow. Our failure to address immigration reform is starving our workers state. The private sector needs the attention of legislators to deal with this crisis. It is high time for federal leaders to abandon political messaging and embrace the business case for immigration reform.

The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has a long history of advocating for bipartisan immigration reform, and we value the contributions of immigrants to our community. Immigrants make up a large share of workers in key industries in the San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area, accounting for 12% of health care workers, about a third of construction workers, according to new analysis from FWD.us of the region. and 14% of our restaurant and food service workers.

Our region is not alone in seeing the powerful impact of immigrants. As analysis by FWD.us shows, Texas depends on immigrants to grow its economy, with more than 3.3 million workers and the second-largest immigrant workforce in the nation. In total, Texas immigrants contribute $119 billion a year in personal income to the Texas economy. As Congress debates reforms, about 1.1 million undocumented Texans — representing about 8% of the state’s total workforce — are contributing to society by paying state, local and federal taxes. $6.5 billion a year. Of those, about 930,000 undocumented Texans work in essential industries — the majority of those people having lived in the United States for more than a decade.

Beyond the workforce, 429,000 immigrant business owners create jobs for all Texans while contributing to the competitiveness of our globally recognized economy. However, immigrant business owners are not immune to the same shortage of available workers and supply chain issues. In fact, they often face additional challenges when it comes to accessing resources, which is especially the case for undocumented entrepreneurs.

Texas should and must lead immigration reform so that more workers can join our state’s workforce to give businesses a fighting chance for a sustainable recovery.

Reasonable changes to immigration laws will increase access to work permits while deportation securities for immigrant workers could boost Texas’ economy by $2 billion each year and add $1.4 billion in annual tax contributions. Bipartisan legislation like the Dream Act can play a major role in improving the lives of young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at a young age, otherwise known as Dreamers. The Dream Act would ensure that they could continue to live, contribute and fulfill essential roles in the state’s workforce. Additionally, an estimated 50-70% of our nation’s farm workers are undocumented, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would help current immigrant farm workers gain citizenship by allowing farmers to easier access to the H-2A seasonal worker visa program.

The failure of the US Congress to come up with sensible pro-immigration policies will have lasting effects on our economy at a time when we need growth the most. In addition, establishing an earned path to citizenship for some undocumented Texans would help able and hard-working people find work opportunities, get an education, and close critical skills and labor gaps. work. These hard workers are our neighbours, they are our friends, and they are a real solution to moving business forward. I urge Texas representatives in Congress to take action.

Richard Perez is President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.