RELEASE – Nebraska business leaders call for new federal immigration laws

For Immediate Release

August 3, 2016

Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289


Reason for Reform Campaign Highlights New Data Showing Economic Contributions of Immigrant Nebraskans

Local leaders call for common-sense immigration laws in nationwide campaign launch


LINCOLN — Today, Nebraska business, faith, and community leaders came together to showcase new research on the economic contributions made by immigrant Nebraskans and highlight the critical need for updated federal immigration laws.

The release of this new research marks the launch of the “Reason for Reform” campaign, an effort taking place in all 50 states today, sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE). The Reason for Reform campaign brings together state business, civic, and cultural leaders to urge Congress to take action on updating immigration laws in order to bring stability to thousands of Nebraska families and allow immigrants to make even further contributions to our economy.

“We need Congress to update our antiquated immigration laws in order to grow Nebraska’s economy, drive innovation, and keep our communities strong,” said Jim Partington, Executive Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association. “An up-to-date immigration system is good for Nebraskans – it creates jobs for U.S.-born citizens and helps us utilize all the talent in our communities.”

The day of action coincides with the release of a new report from PNAE on the economic vitality of foreign-born population in Nebraska, their tax contributions, their spending power, and their role in Nebraska’s key industries as leaders and job creators.

The report, The Contributions of New Americans in Nebraska, found that immigrant Nebraskans, who make up 6.4 percent of the state’s population, contributed $616 million in taxes in 2014, making them significant contributors to our economy.

Furthermore, the report found immigrant Nebraskans contribute to key industries, such as agriculture and computer technology, and play an important role in in creating or preserving jobs for U.S.-born Nebraskans. They make up 5.2 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, and play a large role in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, a major component of U.S. economic growth.

“I came to the United States in 1999 and started working at restaurants as a dishwasher, then a cook and a waiter. I had a dream of one day owning my own restaurant,” said David Valadez, owner of Margarita’s Restaurant in Omaha. “I went to Catholic Charities, and through the Microbusiness program I took classes and received technical assistance for the licenses needed for my business. Through the classes I learned a lot and received the tools I need to start my own business. In February 2008 I made my dream come true and opened Margarita’s Restaurant. I have 11 employees and hope to expand. We need immigration reform that lets both big and small business hire and keep staff needed to grow.”

This study backs up recent research on the economic contributions of immigrants from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, which found in a 2015 report that the U.S. would see an increase of $2.2 billion in tax revenue if Congress passed a comprehensive immigration reform package.

“We know that updating our immigration laws is the right thing to do to preserve the unity of families who make up the cornerstone of strong communities, and this report confirms that new immigration laws are also wise economic policy,” said John Griffith, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdioceses of Omaha. “The United States has long been the destination for hard-working, entrepreneurial, and talented immigrants. We must act now to stop the unnecessary and devastating impact of family separation created by our current, outdated system.”

More Nebraska business leaders are available for comment on today’s report. Please contact Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon to arrange interviews with:

  • Jim Partington – Nebraska Restaurant Association
  • Laura Field – Nebraska Cattlemen
  • Darcy Tromanhauser – Nebraska Appleseed Immigrants & Communities Program Director
  • Mabel Alarcon, Catholic Charities Microbusiness & Asset Development Program Director

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