BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Biden administration’s effort to overhaul immigration laws and include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people would be “transformative” for Birmingham and Alabama according to one Birmingham-area advocate.
Carlos Aleman, CEO of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama says if the administration’s proposed 8-year pathway to citizenship were to become law, it would allow more children to go to school and more undocumented people to open businesses. Aleman, who was also recently elected to the Homewood City Council, says the potential economic impact could be in the billions of dollars.
“Immigrants already pay taxes in sales tax form, but also through individual tax I-D numbers” Aleman says. “But you want to broaden that pool of folks who are contributing to the tax base through Social Security and all these other programs that benefit Alabamians and all Americans. So it would be a tremendous economic boon to allow folks to come into the system.”
The U.S. Citizenship act of 2021 would grant Green Cards to DACA recipients, agricultural workers and people in the Temporary Protective Status program, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. and to begin a three-year citizenship process.
HICA is now also accepting not only renewals but new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - the Obama administration program that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported. The Trump administration had tried first to end and then restrict the program but was overruled in court. When a federal judge ruled in November that at the government had to start accepting new DACA applications, Aleman says HICA already had a waiting list of 200 people on top of the 200 people they helped renew last year - which doesn’t count people going to immigration lawyers across the state to help them through the process.
“There’s at least 4,000 folks eligible right now for DACA renewals and that number can easily be doubled if we allow all these initials” he says.