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April 01, 2006

The United States Hispanic Advocacy Association (USHAA), which provides advocacy and information on behalf of the more than 42 million Hispanic consumers, supports the planned National Day of Economic Action. On behalf of all Hispanic immigrants, Luis J. Diaz, President of USHAA, made the following statement:

“Famed physicist Albert Einstein, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, and recognized activist Julio Cesar Chavez all had one thing in common – they were foreign-born immigrants. History shows that America has always benefited greatly when we have had policies that draw the best and the brightest from all over the world. In all fields of endeavor, immigrants pursuing the American Dream have excelled and made America great.

Like other immigrants before them, Hispanic immigrants are contributing to the greatness of America. As consumers, we generate more than $716 billion in buying power. As workers, we have the highest labor force participation rate in the U.S. As entrepreneurs, we are creating the largest number of small businesses in America. The goal of the May 1st event is to help communicate this reality to corporate America and small businesses. The vehicle selected is the same used by Frank Capra in the great Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the movie, the angel Clarence shows the silent, self-sacrificing George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) the importance of his contributions to those around him by allowing him to see what the world would have been like without him. The May 1st demonstration serves a similar purpose – what would life in America be like without the economic contributions of one of the hardest working, self-sacrificing yet mostly silent group – the Hispanic immigrants?

It would seem fair and just that all businesses (large and small) that benefit from Hispanic purchasing power would view themselves as stakeholders and help Hispanic immigrants validate their worth as meaningful participants in the US economy by supporting this event in any way possible.

The fact is that the immigration debate is about much more than social justice for so called ‘undocumented workers.’ It is in fact an economic debate about the very future of America and, whether they recognize it yet or not, both small businesses and corporate America have a huge stake in the outcome. Imagine what would happen if a potential 15 to 25% of annual revenues from criminalized Hispanic consumers were to disappear as a result of a bad immigration policy?

In a global economy, it is the view of USHAA that America is best served by an immigration policy that incentivizes the best, the brightest, the hardest working, and the most entrepreneurial from around the world to become true stakeholders in this country for the benefit of all our children. Hispanic immigrants certainly fall in this group. Yet, our existing policy is broken. The fact is that there are incredible barriers for any immigrant that now wants to come to America to help work a highly skilled or other essential position that helps build American purchasing power. However, there are absolutely zero barriers to off shoring those opportunities elsewhere in the world where the dollars do not generate a multiplier effect on purchasing power in the US economy. Does such a policy serve the best interests of our nation in the long term?

We must continue to strongly urge the Unites States Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. A bill that only encourages immigrants to make short-term commitments to America is not in our economic best interest as a nation. We oppose the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437) that would make criminals of Hispanic immigrants, their families and those who “assist” them. The fact is that all businesses also “assist” these people to succeed in America. Are we to believe that we want to criminalize our business community? This legislation is not only unfair, but it also does make sense from an economic perspective for America. Instead of picking on the weak, the poor, and the downtrodden from other countries, our approach should be to use our trade and aid foreign policies that foster change in those countries that create the conditions that force human beings to risk their lives each day to cross scorching deserts and ravenous oceans in pursuit of the American dream.

On May 1, we encourage all businesses to support the quiet, the suffering, and the self-sacrificing Hispanic George Bailey’s of the world. We also ask everyone to support the McCain-Kennedy Bill, as amended by Sen. Martinez and Hagel, which provides a clear path to citizenship for those workers that are willing to commit to become true stakeholders in the American dream. You can communicate your support by submitting a Petition for Immigrant Justice from our website at http://www.ushaa.com. Your support will help ensure the economic future of this great country that we all love.”

“The decision by some workers to abstain from work and limit their consumption on that day is a matter of individual conscience and is something our organizations completely support,” said Martin Perez, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey and Chair of USHAA. “As a country of immigrants, we should all rally to support all Hispanics on this issue of historical importance to our nation,” added Jose Marquez, President of Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association.

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