Cardinal Tobin & ex-CEO: Immigration reform is morally right and politically smart | Opinion

Published: Aug. 19, 2021

By Joseph W. Tobin and John Rowe

Cardinal Joseph Tobin (right), archbishop of the Newark Diocese, and John Rowe, former CEO Exelon Corporation, say it breaks their hearts to see refugees deported back to counties where they face certain death. And for those whose politics are more economically centered, they should recognize that a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is good for our wallets, too.


If politics is known for bringing warring camps to the table when their interests align, there can be no better example than the Wall Street CEOs, small business owners, faith leaders, farmers, union bosses, civil rights advocates, immigrants, their families and allies, all united in support of the immigration reforms before the Senate – The Durbin-Graham DREAM Act, the SECURE Act and the Crapo-Bennet companion to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

After decades of congressional inaction on immigration, our growing ranks have lost patience and demand the solutions these bills offer. Inaction is not an option.

Some of us are driven by a moral compunction that demands justice for our nation’s 10.2 million undocumented immigrants. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants. Whether we were born here, brought here, or find ourselves making the United States home due to circumstances beyond our control, Americans intrinsically understand the plight of immigrants and refugees.

The Catholic Church has repeatedly expressed tremendous concern for families divided by our current broken immigration system because we know strong and united families are the building blocks of our society, and society only flourishes when families are given the opportunity to flourish.

We uphold the principle that every person has the right to live in their homeland, in security and dignity, with opportunities for work. And, when the loss of these rights forces individuals to seek safety on our shores, our faith calls on us to welcome them, protect them and generously share our abundance with them.

We writhe to see our government separate mother and child at the border in our names, to see children placed in cages, to consider the crippling fear of more than 600,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children, face knowing they could someday be deported away from the only homeland they’ve ever known. It breaks our hearts to see refugees deported back to counties where they face certain death.

This should be enough, but those whose politics are more economically centered have an equally weighty motive in the fight for immigration solutions; a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is good for our wallets, too.

Studies project that a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the United States would boost U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.7 trillion over 10 years, creating 438,800 new jobs. A total of 97% of today’s DACA recipients are either in school or the workforce, 65% have purchased a car and 15% have purchased a house.

Immigrants power key industries across the country including agriculture, construction, tourism, hospitality and more. Immigrants open businesses that create American jobs; more than 800,000 undocumented entrepreneurs add $15 billion to the U.S. economy every year.

At a time when our nation faces a perilous labor shortage, nearly three in four undocumented workers in America, approximately 5 million, are essential workers. With the unprecedented need for economic recovery, business owners need a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in order to legally tap and unbridle the economic potential of our nation’s hardest workers.

Whatever skin we have in the game — be it moral or economic — when the stakes are this high and the chorus this swollen, shaping and passing immigration solutions in the Senate, at this moment, is critical to each senators’ political viability. According to a recent survey, 74% of American voters support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

This alignment of interests — ranging from farmworkers and faith leaders to small business owners and Fortune500 CEOs — bodes a new pro-American populism that senators would be foolish to ignore.

After three administrations and years of delay, the 117th Congress now has an opportunity to be courageous by addressing immigration in a comprehensive and productive way that will provide long-desired relief for those already living as Americans.

Whether with bipartisan support or through the reconciliation process, American voters want action now. Neither our nation’s conscience nor its economy will take “no” for an answer. Let us be clear: Senators who, in their tone-deafness, fail to do what is right and save our economy by supporting these immigration solutions now will need their own personal job plans in 2022.

Whatever political opinions may divide us, we look to our senators to support the passage and implementation of this legislation that will keep families together, protect children, expand our workforce and grow our economy.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin is the Archbishop of the Newark Diocese. John Rowe is the former chairman and chief executive officer of the energy corporation Exelon Corporation and co-chair of the American Business Immigration Coalition.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-08-20 02:19:31 -0700