Years of Courage and Persistence Pay Off in Huge Step Forward for Immigration Reform
Millions of immigrant families are celebrating the historic breakthrough on immigration that will provide the opportunity for many to remain in the U.S. and continue to contribute to America.
President Obama’s executive order means that for now nearly half of the undocumented immigrants living in America will no longer be afraid they will be deported. The other half’s fears should also lessen because new reforms should begin to reign in over-zealous enforcement agencies.
“This is a major victory for the immigrant rights movement in American and for the millions of immigrants who stood up and were unafraid. It’s a long overdue step toward justice,” said Stephen Michael, Campaigns Manager of The Main Street Alliance.Makini Howell, owner and Executive Chef of Plum Bistro, Seattle, WA
Across the country The Main Street Alliance has been working tirelessly with the small business community to fight for fair and just reform to fix our nation’s broken immigration system, keep our families together and our small businesses thriving.
Makini Howell, owner of Plum Bistro in Seattle, WA appeared on the Nightly Business Report last night, joining together with those who called on President Obama to take bold action in September, Main Street Alliance business owners from all across the country support the President, showing that administrative action to protect immigrants makes business sense.
“As a small business owner, I see the positive impact immigrants have on our economy,” said Jose Gonzalez, President of Tu Casa Real Estate in Salem, OR. “Many of my customers are immigrants, and it makes me so happy to know that this year, millions more families across the country will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season without fear that the broken immigration system will tear families and communities apart.”Jim Gilbert, owner of Northwoods Nursery & One Green World in Molalla & Portland, OR and Jose Gonzalez, President of TU Casa Real Estate in Salem, OR
Because the deferred action program announced by President Obama does not cover all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and the action is not permanent, Michael vowed to keep fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.
“Our fight is not over until everyone has a path to citizenship and no one lives in fear that their family will be separated. After all, when our families and communities are strong, our small businesses thrive,” Stephen Michael said.
Small business owners and families celebrated President Obama’s executive order, but added words of caution for anyone who attempts to reverse this action, including congressional Republicans.
“Countless families have been torn apart because of our patchwork of failed and mismanaged immigration policies. We will never allow that to happen again and will stand up to those who put politics ahead of families,” said said Jim Gilbert, Owner of Northwoods Nursery and One Green World in Molalla and Portland, OR. “To those who would try to take this victory away, who would tell immigrant families they are not welcome, you are on the wrong side of history. Our communities, families, and small businesses need this to help strengthen our economy.”
“Today, America is living up to its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Peter Tofalvi, owner of Abacus Energy Solutions in Beaverton, OR. “Today, millions of families will now be able to pursue the American Dream.”
As part of National Small Business Week (June 17-21), small business owners from across the Main Street Alliance network are speaking out on the top issues facing the nation.
Each day during Small Business Week, we're releasing a new "Straight Talk on Main Street" issue fact sheet providing unique small business perspective and analysis, on the following schedule:
- Monday - IMMIGRATION REFORM: Immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship strengthens consumer demand, boosts economy
- Tuesday - TAX FAIRNESS: Ending offshore tax dodging will level playing field for small business
- Wednesday - HEALTH CARE: Small business owners preparing for full implementation of health care reform
- Thursday - ECONOMY-BOOSTING JOBS: Small business engagement critical to growing momentum on Paid Sick Days
- Friday - MONEY IN POLITICS: Small businesses seek greater disclosure of secret political spending by corporations and trade associations
The time is now for immigration reform. Small business owners and friends of small business are raising our voices to support common sense, comprehensive immigration reform that boosts small businesses and local economies.
Are you a small business owner? Click here to read and sign our small business principles for immigration reform.
Call your Senators and urge them to support common sense immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Here's a toll-free number (a recorded message will provide guidance, ask for your zip code, and connect you to your Senator's office): 1-888-891-3271.
Small business owner or friend of small business? Click here to share our "roadmap to citizenship" poster on Facebook.
On April 2, the Main Street Alliance and the American Sustainable Business Council released a report about small business owners' views on immigration reform, based on a scientific live phone survey of 515 small business owners conducted by Lake Research Partners between March 14-25.
Poll Report: Small Business Owners’ Views on Immigration Reform
Press Release: Most Small Business Owners Favor Immigration Reform with Roadmap to Citizenship
Key Findings: National Results
Small business owners across the country are calling for common sense Immigration Reform. Add your voice to the campaign by signing on below.
The Main Street Alliance released a small business statement of principles for immigration reform. Main Street Alliance small business leaders believe immigration reform should:
- Strengthen the small business workforce and customer base.
- Reward initiative with the American promise of opportunity.
- Promote productivity and reduce red tape.
- Strengthen the American economy and the country’s bottom line.
On October 20, an all-star team of small business leaders from across the Main Street Alliance network made the trek to Washington, DC to represent the voice of Main Street small businesses in the nation’s capital.
Business owners came from Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington to participate in meetings on Capitol Hill. In a day and a half, the team conducted close to 20 meetings with Senate and House offices, including three face to face meetings with U.S. Senators.
The group held wide-ranging conversations with congressional offices, covering topics including job creation and regulations, revenues and investment, health care, immigration reform, and fixing the housing market.
Some Hill staffers acknowledged that it was helpful – and refreshing – to hear from real small business owners back in their home states and districts, and to hear business owners with a different perspective on topics like taxes and regulations than you hear from the inside-the-beltway business lobbies. Mission accomplished!
Here’s a quick taste of some of the issues the group discussed in meetings on Capitol Hill:
Job Creation & Anti-Regulatory Attacks
Despite all the rhetoric in DC about “regulations,” what small businesses need is customers – demand – not deregulation. The focus on rolling back regulations is counterproductive in two ways. First, it distracts from the real issue, which is rebuilding the small business customer base. Second, the rules and standards that are under threat of being rolled back (financial reform, clean air, health insurance market reforms) are ones that protect small businesses and the communities they rely on from mistreatment by big corporate interests. Rolling back these standards and rules would only shift more risk and more costs onto the shoulders of small businesses.
See MSA’s 10 “dos and don’ts” for job creation
Revenues and Taxes
On revenues and taxes, Main Street Alliance small business owners stand squarely in support of efforts to raise revenues by closing corporate tax loopholes, ending the abuse of off-shore tax havens, and generally ensuring that large corporations and the wealthy are paying their dues. As MSA Executive Committee member Kelly Conklin puts it, “If you want to fly the American flag outside your corporate headquarters, you should be paying your way.” Raising revenues in these ways would generate resources for important investments in infrastructure and job creation, and it would level the playing field for small businesses (who don’t have access to things like off-shore tax havens) at the same time.
At the same time, MSA small business owners are strongly opposed to the push for a repatriation “tax holiday” for large multinational companies, or to giving big corporations a permanent tax holiday – and permanent incentive to off-shore jobs and profits – through what’s called a “territorial” tax system.
See the recent coalition letter MSA signed onto about tax reform
On health care, the MSA delegation discussed important advances in health care reform, and highlighted opportunities to continue building on health reform to maximize the benefits for small businesses.
The MSA delegation in DC also discussed the importance of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform for businesses, workers, and the economy. Enforcement-only policies like the mandatory E-Verify proposal currently in the House of Representatives would be bad for small businesses, bad for the workforce, and bad for the country’s bottom line.
See MSA’s fact sheet about the dangers of mandatory E-Verify
Fixing the Housing Market
On the importance of dealing with the mortgage crisis to create the space for consumer demand to bounce back and help drive the economic recovery, MSA’s small business owners believe more needs to be done. A newly announced program that may allow 1 to 2 million homeowners to refinance is a positive step, but with an estimated 11 million homeowners underwater in their homes, Congress and the Administration should advance proposals for mortgage modification and refinancing on a much larger scale to truly get at the problem of stifled consumer demand.
Mandatory E-Verify would be bad for businesses, bad for the workforce, and bad for the country's bottom line.
Business owners and business groups across the country are taking action to make their voices heard on this issue.
If you're a small business owner, click here to read and sign the business owners' statement.
If you represent a business organization, click here to read and sign the organizational letter.
Ahead of a scheduled mark-up of H.R. 2885, a proposal that would mandate the use of the controversial E-Verify employment verification system by every employer in the country, Main Street Alliance leader David Borris, owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Northbrook, IL spoke at a press event outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on September 14 opposing the plan.
David urged the Chamber and members of Congress to take a stand against E-verify. “The balance sheet on E-verify is simple: it’s bad for small business, bad for our workforce, and bad for the country's bottom line,” David said. “We urge the US Chamber and our members of Congress to hear our call, listen to small business, and oppose this flawed proposal.” Scroll down to read David's complete remarks.
Meanwhile, leaders in the Main Street Alliance network from Maine to Colorado to Oregon submitted a letter to the House Judiciary Committee outlining the job-killing impact a mandatory E-Verify regime would have on small businesses, their workforce, and the economy. Click here for a copy of the letter.
My name is David Borris. I own a business called Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Northbrook, Illinois. I also serve on the Executive Committee of the Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business owners committed to speaking for ourselves on the important issues facing our businesses and our local economies.
My wife and I opened our business as a small, homemade food store in Highland Park in 1985. Over the years, we’ve expanded into a full service catering company with 25 full time employees and another 80 part time and seasonal workers. Small businesses like ours are the backbone of local economies across the country. We create jobs, deliver important goods and services, drive local economies and give back to our communities.
I’m here today to urge the US Chamber of Commerce to take the blinders off and see what this E-Verify proposal would do to small businesses. To take the earplugs out and hear how mandatory E-Verify would harm small business owners all across America. To recognize that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need all the support the chamber and others can give to blaze the trail back to prosperity in our local communities.
We face many challenges: diminishing consumer demand, inability to provide quality, affordable health care to our employees, lack of access to capital -- all of these have conspired over the past 3 years to hold back the vibrant small business engine that should be fueling a strong recovery.
And while the Chamber has taken strident positions recently against new rules of the road that would actually help level the playing field for small business -- in health care, in the financial industry, in tax reform -- today they are inexplicably silent when Washington DC is talking about requiring every business owner in America to suit up as an immigration and customs enforcement agent.
Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken and that broken system is hurting small businesses, local economies, and the country. But as we’ve already heard today, taking the flawed E-Verify system and making it mandatory is not the solution.
Small businesses are doing everything we can to innovate, recreate, and delineate new roles in a rapidly changing business environment. All the while doing what we must to trim costs without laying off valued workers- many of whom are like family to us. Mandating E-Verify would create a whole new set of challenges for us.
The support of some in Congress for E-Verify exposes a blatant double standard. We’ve grown used to seeing some members of Congress use the good name of small business as a smokescreen to attack basic rules and standards. We’re talking about things like clean air rules that actually help small businesses by promoting a healthy workforce and cutting our health care costs.
Now, these same politicians are pushing for an E-Verify regime that – unlike those other rules they like to complain about – will actually have a direct negative impact on small businesses. This E-Verify proposal will be a good litmus test – it’s going to show us who’s serious about standing up for small business, and who only pays lip service to us when it’s convenient to advance the agenda of their big corporate donors.
The US Chamber claims to represent businesses large and small across the country. The Chamber has an obligation to listen to the small businesses - and speak out on our behalf. The problems of illegal immigration will not be dented one iota if e-verify is mandated - but small businesses across this great nation will suffer while struggling to comply.
The balance sheet for us on E-verify? It’s bad for small business, bad for our workforce, and bad for the country's bottom line. We need the US Chamber to hear our call, listen to small business, and withdraw its support for this flawed proposal.
We urge the Chamber to stop nibbling around the margins, stop accepting a piecemeal non-solution that will so negatively impact small business. We urge the Chamber to join the growing chorus of business owners and demand that our elected officials say no to E-Verify and find the courage to re-engage the debate on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.