It is not entirely surprising that many people think of Latinos when immigration reform is discussed. Of course, Latinos are not the only group of people who are interested and deeply vested in updating U.S. immigration laws, but with 40 percent of the city of Lancaster being Latino, they are some of the most visible parts of our community. And, according to the president of the Spanish American Civic Association, the Latino community has been an important driving force in the Lancaster and Pennsylvania economies.
In 2007 alone, Latinos spent $3.2 billion in goods and services in Pennsylvania, and the community has more than $16.1 billion in consumer spending power. Not only are Latinos spending money in Lancaster County, but they are also creating jobs here, too.
By reforming the current immigration laws, Congress has the ability to simplify the legal immigration system, boost the gross domestic product and cut the federal budget deficit. Moreover, by creating pathways to citizenship for the millions of immigrants living in the country without legal visas or statuses, they can also expand the job market significantly.
Within Pennsylvania alone, immigration reform could increase the gross state product by $1.1 billion in the first year alone.
It is important to note that Latinos are not just looking for pathways to citizenship. Many individuals in the Latino community hope for an overall change in the immigration system, including programs focused on family and employment-based immigration. There are also a number of people who would like to make it easier for highly skilled individuals to get visas to and possibly legal permanent residency in the U.S.
Source: The Patriot-News, “Immigration reform makes dollars and sense for Pa. Latinos,” Carlos Graupera, April 21, 2014