Juan Carlos “JC” Gonzalez never questions the economic benefit of welcoming immigrants into the United States. A first-generation American, Gonzalez is a vice president and branch manager of a Wells Fargo in Dallas and serves on the board of directors of the Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Through the chamber, we work to help anyone that wants to start a small business,” he says. “These folks who are here from Mexico, they have that entrepreneurial spirit. They want to do things right and better their families.” That motivation, Gonzalez says, pumps money into the economy. “I have one client who recently bought a house, and he has two nice BMWs. He’s created six different restaurants, creating 30 or so jobs within the community. They just want to live the American dream.”
These people are qualified, intelligent people. Why would we not give them the opportunity and keep them here?
Gonzalez helps them achieve it though his work at Wells Fargo, where he assists clients in building credit so they can start a business, buy a home or make other longterm financial investments in the community. “People are intimidated by banks, so my team goes to local high schools, and nonprofits, and offers one-on-one meetings on how to build credit: Banking 101,” he says. “I have another client who is undocumented but owns and operates a landscaping company. He’s done everything else by the book but he’s afraid to buy a house because he thinks he’ll then be told to leave. But if we can get him to trust the banks, provide financial literacy, he can put roots down, and contribute even more.”
Given the current political climate, Gonzalez isn’t particularly hopeful about immigration reform. In a perfect world, though, he’d like to see both parties find common ground to give hard-working immigrants a road to legalization and citizenship. In addition to his professional experience, this view is reinforced by his own family history: Gonzalez’s father, who immigrated from Mexico, is in the process of becoming a citizen after more than 30 years in the United States — all of which he spent working for the same company. “My father, just like most immigrants, left his country for a better opportunity,” he says. “These people are qualified, intelligent people. Why would we not give them the opportunity and keep them here?”