EDINBURG, Texas – Did you know that over 14,420 Dreamers live in the McAllen metro region and contribute $39.8M in federal, state, and local taxes?

This information was provided at a recent forum co-hosted by the Texas Business Immigration Coalition, the Texas Opportunity Coalition and UT-Rio Grande Valley. The event was held at the Edinburg campus of UT-Rio Grande Valley.

A Dreamer is a person who has lived in the United States without official authorization since coming to the country as a minor. People of this description who meet certain conditions are eligible for a special immigration status under an executive order first signed by President Obama.

The forum focused on ways in which business, higher-education, and civic leaders can support a federal Dream Act, which would allow the Dreamers a permanent way of staying in the United States.

Among the VIPs in attendance were U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, UTRGV President Guy Bailey, Rio Grande Valley Partnership President Sergio Contreras, IBC Bank Vice President Eddie Aldrete, and UTRGV Vice President Veronica Gonzales.

Congressman Gonzalez thanked the organized and local leaders for attending the meeting and discussing the impact Dreamers have on our economy. “These young people are Americans in every way, except on paper, which is why we must keep pushing for solutions that will provide them with a pathway to citizenship,” Gonzalez said.

Also participating were the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and the LIBRE Initiative.

Contreras, of the RGV Partnership, was recently featured in a Rio Grande Guardian news article about his group’s efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. RGVP is a member of FWD.us, a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential.

For too long, the group says, the United States’ broken immigration and criminal justice systems have “locked too many people out of the American dream.”

Founded by leaders in the technology and business communities, FWD.us says it is seeking to “grow and galvanize political support to break through partisan gridlock and achieve meaningful reforms.”

Together, the group states, it can “move America forward.”

Contreras said: “The RGV Partnership is a catalyst for prosperity in the Rio Grande Valley – unifying stakeholders in the spirit of collaboration and regional progress and aims to be an influential advocate. This mission is extended through our partnership with FWD.us. Today, our nation’s immigration system is beyond broken and needs a unified front across leaders at the federal and state level to get the job done. More than ever, we need an immigration system that will benefit all workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses across Texas, especially in the Rio Grande Valley.”

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