Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee And Officials Call For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

"Si, se puede!"

Community leaders and business owners were joined by university students and undocumented workers, who provided support for Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee at Catholic Charities in downtown Houston.

She told the crowd that she's been working on immigration issues since she went to Washington.

"Where are the negative comments coming? The numbers speak quite differently. 61,511 foreign students contribute $1.4 billion dollars to Texas' economy."

Jackson Lee says since immigrants make up 21 percent of the workforce, nine percent that is unauthorized, that's why she's reintroduced the SAVE America Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, legislation she has pushed the past 7 years in Congress.

"There is a benefit to being able to have a country that knows who is here, that has order, and can protect the lives of individuals, who have come here to do good. And that's what HR 1417 is, the border security bill written by Homeland Security. We produced a bill that passed bi-partisan."

Scott Marek owns a construction company here in Houston. He says it's not right that there are two sets of rules when it comes to hiring immigrants.

"The majority of the construction companies in Texas are turning a blind eye to the fact that those workers are undocumented, not paying taxes. It's all about a low price. It's time for construction companies to stand up, and demand comprehensive immigration reform. Let's ID these workers, and let's let them pay taxes." 

He says legislation would benefit immigrants who contribute to the economy.

"There's about $9 billion dollars a year in payroll, just in construction in Texas that's not being recorded, $9 billion. That's over a billion dollars in taxes, that's funding your Social Security and my Social Security, and our federal debt."

Opposition to immigration reform aren't sold on the idea, and fear that our borders are not secure. But professor Geoffrey Hoffman of the UH Law Center and director of the University's Immigration Clinic, says the time has come.

"If you look at Senate Bill 744, and then you project out in terms of what the House could do, in the next couple of months it's going to come forward with a peace-meal approach, which means they're going to take out parts that they like from SB 744, and they're going to propose some version of immigration reform. So yes, I do think it will happen."

And he thinks it could happen this year.


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