iMarch for Immigration: Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians Hosts Media Teleconference to Launch Statewide Coalition on Immigration Reform and Call on Congress to Act Now, Beginning with Dreamers

Media teleconference included the participation of local leaders and marked the beginning of the iMarch for Immigration Campaign with Offline and Online Events in all 50 States 


Philadelphia, PA (December 6, 2017) — Today, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians hosted a media teleconference with business and community leaders to launch a statewide coalition for immigration reform, displaying united support for immigrants in the economy. The coalition launch was sponsored by New American Economy (NAE) and also marked the iMarch for Immigration Campaign, a national day of action with online and offline events in all 50 states.


On the teleconference, the coalition called on Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation to take action protecting Dreamers as a first step to addressing the longstanding economic hurdles that reside within our outdated immigration system.


“Fostering a welcoming environment for immigrants makes Pennsylvania a more vibrant, creative, and dynamic competitor in today’s global economy. Ending the DACA program is not only devastating for thousands of young Pennsylvanians who know this country as their only home, but it will have drastic consequences for our economy,” said Peter Gonzales, President and CEO of Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. “As Pennsylvania’s workforce continues aging, retaining young talent should be a top priority for lawmakers. DREAMers are keeping the American Dream alive and now it is up to Congress to act to protect them so Pennsylvania may continue to thrive.”


The iMarch campaign includes a nationwide virtual march for immigration reform, and has the backing of numerous leaders in the business, agriculture, education, tech, and faith sectors, state and local elected officials, and top voices from both sides of the political spectrum. You can view iMarch activity online at iMarch.us, which will be updated throughout the day with highlights from industries and perspectives across the country.


The NAE Pennsylvania Immigration Reform Coalition launched today is a cohort of state leaders who will lead the charge to mobilize support from additional business and civic voices across the state. Initial coalition members include:

  • Peter Gonzales, President and CEO of Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
  • Alex Halper, Government Affairs Director, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry
  • Heather Valudes, Advocacy Director, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce
  • Cheryl Hiester, Executive Director, Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon
  • Gisele Fetterman, Co-founder 412 Food Rescue and Braddock’s Free Store
  • Brandon Mendoza, Government Affairs Manager at the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce


“In the Pittsburgh region, there is an abundance of opportunity. Our ability to attract, retain and upskill talent is essential to realizing our economic potential. That is why the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has supported immigration reform over the last five years,” said Brandon Mendoza, Government Affairs Manager at the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. “As part of this effort, earlier this year, we worked with the New American Economy on a first-of-its-kind report on immigration in the Great Lakes region. The report offers a fact-based and data-driven
case for comprehensive immigration reform, which we are eager to share with lawmakers and other key stakeholders.”


Heather Valudes, Advocacy Director for the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Cheryl Heister, Executive Director for the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, added: “Immigrants, including refugees and the thousands of DREAMers that know our state as their only home, greatly enrich the diversity of our community and strengthen our economic prosperity,” added “Further, we know that the number one hurdle our business community continues to face is talent recruitment and retention – and without foreign-born individuals, we lose out. It is a critical time to recognize the needs of our local economies, the importance of immigrants in our workforce and the need for Congress to work together toward comprehensive reforms to ensure that hardworking immigrants have a welcome place in our economy.”


As part of the iMarch effort, NAE’s comprehensive data on immigrants in Pennsylvania’s economy and the effect of the DACA-eligible population in the state were cited as key reasons for Congress to take action. In Pennsylvania alone, the positive economic impact of DACA-eligible recipients can be easily seen:

  • There are as many as 15,355 DACA-eligible recipients in the state
  • Despite the rhetoric claiming undocumented youths are a drain on the Pennsylvania economy, 87.9 percent of the DACA-eligible population who are at least 16 years old are employed
  • Pennsylvania’s DACA-eligible population earns almost $223.6 million in total income annually.
  • Pennsylvania’s DACA-eligible population contributes more than $35.8 million in total taxes annually, $20.1 million of which goes to state and local tax revenue in Pennsylvania


At large, immigrants have substantial impact on the local economy:

  • Immigrants in Pennsylvania pay $7.5 billion in taxes every year
  • Immigrant-owned businesses in Pennsylvania employ 143,211 people
  • Pennsylvania immigrants held $20.2 billion in spending power in 2016


For more information on the iMarch Campaign, visit iMarch.us.


About Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians: Accelerating immigrant integration and economic advancement through education and training, employment, and entrepreneurship. The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia. We believe that a steady influx of new customers, workers, and entrepreneurs can reinvigorate Pennsylvania’s aging population, renew its neighborhoods, and re-energize our economy. By making Pennsylvania a magnet for immigrants, we will become a more vibrant, more creative, and more dynamic competitor in today’s global economy. We work closely with government agencies, service providers, employers, business associations, trade unions, and economic development groups.


About New American Economy: New American Economy (NAE) brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support  immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. Coalition members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. Learn more at www.NewAmericanEconomy.org.


Jesse Dougherty, jesse@newamericaneconomy.org
James Scimecca, james@newamericaneconomy.org
Lina Duffy, lina@welcomingcenter.org