Thousands of immigrants living, working, earning degrees and paying taxes in Nebraska are stuck in legal limbo, Omaha and Lincoln Chamber of Commerce officials say, putting at risk the “important role” they play in the state’s economy.
That’s why the heads of both chambers joined dozens of others across the country Thursday to advocate for “Dreamers” and other immigrants with temporary legal status, calling on Congress to provide permanent legal protection and a path to citizenship.
“They are talented and committed individuals and integral to our shared growth,” said David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. “Progress depends on everyone.”
Brown and Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall were among 60 chamber leaders from 26 states who signed an open letter urging leaders of both parties to end the uncertainty surrounding Dreamers, or those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and those with temporary protected status (TPS).
The two Nebraska chamber leaders cited a recent study indicating that immigrants make significant contributions to the state’s economy.
The study by the New American Economy, a bipartisan New York-based organization advocating for change in immigration policy, estimated that there are some 150,000 immigrants living in Nebraska, spending $2.9 billion annually. They also pay almost $1 billion in taxes, $344 million of which goes to state and local government.