A picture of Representative Bill Foster
Bill F.
Democrat IL 11

About Rep. Bill
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    by Representative Bill Foster

    Posted on 2013-09-18

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    FOSTER. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to highlight the many important contributions that immigrants make to our Nation and our economy, to our scientific progress, and to say a few special words on the positive impact that comprehensive immigration reform will have on the real estate market in our country.

    We are a Nation of immigrants. Many of us are second- or third- generation Americans, and we have all benefited from the sacrifices that our ancestors made in search of a better life in America.

    In fact, my wife is a first-generation Asian-American who came to the United States to pursue her education, and was able to become a legal immigrant and a citizen and a Ph.D., in fact, but who knows that even our legal immigration system does not work as well as it should.

    Every day, families come to this country in search of the American Dream--better jobs, better education, and a better life for their families.

    [[Page H5645]] I am proud to represent many of these families, but would like to share just one incredible story of one of my constituents, Juventino Cano. Growing up, Juventino lived on a farm in Colima, Mexico, with his parents and six brothers and sisters. Their home didn't have lights or electricity, and they all worked long hours on the family farm to make ends meet.

    When he was 17 years old, his stepbrothers encouraged him to come to Aurora, Illinois, and told him about the wonderful opportunities that awaited him in America. He was able to get a job with his stepbrothers at a packaging company.

    By 1986, Juventino not only held a steady job and had learned English, but he had opened his own company, Cano Container Corporation, in Aurora, Illinois. What started with a single machine and three employees has now grown into a company with over $20 million a year in annual sales. Today, not only is Juventino the president and CEO of the Cano Container Company, he also serves on the board of directors for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as the president of the board of directors of the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    {time} 2030 Cano Container Company has also received its share of accolades, including being named the minority manufacturer of the year by the United States Department of Commerce in 2007.

    The city and the economy of Aurora, Illinois, have greatly benefited from Juventino's many contributions to the community. His story reminds us that immigration reform is good for economic growth. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. These American companies represent seven of the 10 most valuable brands in the world and collectively employ more than 10 million people and generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion. That's a quarter of our economy.

    Additionally, immigrants have a huge impact on our housing market, and passage of comprehensive immigration reform will have a huge positive impact on our still-recovering real estate markets. A study from Harvard University found that in recent years, foreign-born households accounted for 30 percent of the overall growth in the housing sector.

    According to the ``2012 State of Hispanic Homeownership'' report, it is likely that comprehensive immigration reform would generate 3 million new Hispanic home buyers over the next several years. Every day that we fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we are forfeiting millions of dollars of economic growth and tax revenue and slowing the recovery of our housing markets.

    If we passed immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, it would increase State and local tax collections by almost $150 million a year in Illinois alone. On the other hand, if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Illinois, the State would lose $25.6 billion in economic activity, $11.4 billion in gross State product, and approximately 120,000 jobs.

    As a scientist, I've also seen firsthand the valuable contributions that immigrants make. For 20 years, I worked as a physicist at Fermi National Lab in Illinois, and every day the flags from dozens of countries flew outside the facilities representing the nationalities of all of the scientists performing experiments at Fermilab.

    Thousands of students from other countries have come to the U.S. to get their Ph.D.s and training at our research facilities, and it has been the policy of our country to turn most of them away when the work is done and their education is complete. While this may have made sense in the years after World War II when we were trying to avoid the brain drain from countries trying to rebuild themselves, times have changed. The economic winds are now blowing in both directions, and we need to stop pushing our accomplished scientists and researchers out of our country and instead encourage them to stay here and to build businesses, expand their research, and help grow our economy. The comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate does exactly that: it encourages the best and brightest scientists and researchers to stay here and add to our economy and our R&D capabilities.

    As we contemplate a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants and consider reforming our legal immigration system, let's remember all of the contributions that immigrants, past and present, have made to our country.

    Our Nation has a long and proud history of welcoming immigrants in search of a better life for themselves and their families, but our current immigration system is broken. We now have a historic opportunity to bring 11 million people out of the shadows.

    We have to remember that at any moment we are just 5 days away from passing immigration reform and having it be the law of the land. All it will take is for Speaker Boehner to wake up one morning and listen to the voices of his church, listen to the voices of the chambers of commerce, listen to the voices of business and ordinary people all over this country and decide to bring the Senate immigration bill up for a vote where it will pass with a bipartisan majority and be signed into law by the President.

    This would be a historic moment and exactly the kind of bipartisanship that people expect from their elected representatives. If and when Speaker Boehner decides to act and allow the House a vote to pass the Senate immigration bill, we could boost our economy, including our real estate markets, reduce our national debt and, most importantly, bring 11 million people out of the shadows. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

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