President Joe Biden poses for his official portrait Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in the Library of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

View ABIC’s fact sheet on work permits here; Cornell University legal memo on Biden’s executive authority for this action here

WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden announced actions to grant work permits to undocumented spouses of United States citizens, after a year-long campaign led by the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) and American Families United (AFU). ABIC and AFU released the following statements applauding this decision:

“President Biden’s action to extend work permits for long-term immigrant spouses is morally right, economically sound and politically smart,” said Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, representing 1400+ CEOs and employers across the country. “We thank him for taking this important step to support American families, protecting their love and ability to live together. The overwhelming majority of Americans support these humane and common-sense steps, and it will directly improve the lives of more than 10 million American citizens who have an undocumented family member. Today, those families, and the advocates fighting on their behalf, can breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

“The anxiety and heartbreak of being separated from your spouse, or worried that your loved one will get deported at any moment, serves as a stark reminder that immigration reform is sorely needed in this country,” said Ashley DeAzevedo, president of American Families United, representing 1.1 million U.S. citizens married to undocumented spouses. “Today, President Biden took a historic step forward, delivering a down payment on his commitment to our families. By granting work permits to long-term immigrant spouses, our families will be able to live and work safely and with security. There is more work to do, but today, President Biden, we cannot thank you enough.”

The U.S. is home to 10.6 million U.S. citizens who live in mixed-status households, with hundreds of thousands of impacted U.S. citizens in Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and Georgia. Long-term undocumented immigrants have lived on average for 15 years in our country working, paying taxes and raising American children. Each year, undocumented immigrants earn $290 billion in household income and contribute over $21.5 and $13.6 billion in state and local taxes with a combined spending power of $254.8 billion. 

ABIC, together with AFU, led the Here to Work campaign of 1,400+ CEOs and employers, 150+ bipartisan mayors and lawmakers calling on the President to grant work permits for long-term immigrant spouses. Since starting last year, ABIC held more than 150 events in battleground states and worked closely with Latino elected officials, Republicans, impacted families, business leaders, lawmakers, and faith leaders to urge action on this issue.

More Background on the Here to Work Campaign 

Since the Here to Work campaign began last March, ABIC and AFU led an intensive effort across battleground states including Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina with over 150 press conferences and rallies, a march of 6,000 people last November 14 in Washington, D.C., over 300 meetings with White House officials, Cabinet members, administration officials and members of Congress to discuss this policy and the positive impact it would have on American business, our communities and the 10.6 million U.S. citizens who live in mixed-status households.

Key endorsements

Support in Battleground States

ABIC and their employer members, AFU, The Resurrection Project,, CASA, UNITE HERE Local 1, Make the Road and partners across the country held dozens of events in battleground states and across the country, including PennsylvaniaNevadaNorth CarolinaFlorida and Wisconsin, and worked closely with Latino elected officials, Republicans, impacted families, business leaders, lawmakersDACA recipients, and faith leaders to urge the Biden administration to address this issue.

In this effort, ABIC leveraged leadership of its board members including Former Arizona Republican State Senator Bob Worsley, ABIC Co-Chairman and CEO of ZenniHome LLC; Al Cardenas, ABIC Co-Chairman and CEO, VITAL Salud; Board of Directors Coral Gables Trust; Andrew Tisch, Co-Chairman of Loews Corporation; Josh Hoyt, Founding Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans and Partner with Democracy Partners; and Woody Hunt, Board of Directors Senior Chairman, Hunt Companies, Inc.

ABIC employers across the country leveraged their voices to make the economic case for action, including Lisa Winton, CEO of Winton Machine Company in Georgia and a Board Member of the National Association of Manufacturers; Sam Sanchez, CEO of Third Coast Hospitality and a Board Member with the National Restaurant Association; Jenni Tilton-Flood, a Maine Dairy Farmer with Flood Brothers Farm and Donnie Gibson, CEO of CivilWerx in Nevada.

Associations including Matt Teagarden, chief executive of the Kansas Livestock AssociationSteve Obert, executive director of the Indiana Dairy Producers, the Texas Association of Mexican American  Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC), Sam Toia, CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association and Lou Sandoval, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce were invaluable partners.

In November 2023, ABIC, AFU, CASA, The Resurrection Project and partners across Texas, North Carolina, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania and other states convened over 2,200 people — advocates, employers, labor union members and directly impacted individuals — in Washington, D.C. for the Here to Work Summit. After the Summit, thousands of people marched to the White House after engaging in legislative visits with federal representatives and senators.

Support from Elected Officials

Last April, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) convened a briefing with ABIC and employers, AFU, UNITE HERE Local 1, and Dreamers urging President Biden to act and marking the release of a letter from 20 Senators urging action.

This April, ABIC and AFU organized a letter led by U.S. Representatives Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Lou Correa (D-CA) to President Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou uring the Biden administration to take action on this issue. More than 150 local and state elected officials from 21 U.S. states and territories joined the letter in support of extending work permits to long-term contributors. The letter was followed by ongoing engagement by state elected officials including a letter of support from the Pennsylvania Black and Latino Legislative Caucuses, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in Texas (MALC) and the Nevada Latino and AAPI Caucuses, as well as resolutions in support that passed the Illinois legislature and El Paso County Board.

ABIC also coordinated a group of more than 40 mayors, led by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and NYC Mayor Eric Adams, and county executives delivered a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration, calling for work authorizations for both recent arrivals and long-standing undocumented immigrants, in the absence of long-awaited comprehensive immigration reform.

Broad, Bipartisan Support

This issue has received bipartisan support. U.S. Representatives Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) stood alongside ABIC and advocates during a press conferencecalling on President Biden to issue executive orders to expand the issuance of work permits for mixed-status families. U.S. Rep. Allred (D-TX) penned an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News alongside Republican business leader and ABIC board member Woody Hunt, emphasizing the benefits of extending work permits for spouses of U.S. citizens. And this support isn’t just from members of Congress — 82 percent of likely voters in swing states support creating pathways to citizenship for immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for many years and pass a background check and pay taxes.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) endorsed the effort, as did U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Media Attention

ABIC and AFU’s efforts were featured on the airwaves and in print. Impacted family members were highlighted in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostCNN and in local outlets including the Arizona Republic and the Nevada Current, ABIC and AFU leaders were featured on BloombergCNN, and SiriusXM, to name just a few. And members of Congress, including Rep. Suozzi, who leaned in on immigration during his campaign to replace Rep. Santos, was featured on CNN. Congressional Black Caucus Chair, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-4) was on MSNBC urging President Biden to extend work permits to Dreamers, spouses of U.S. citizens and mixed-status families.

ABIC salutes the 15-year effort by America Families United to win protection for their families, the excellent advocacy of and the extraordinary organizing by groups in the field, led by CASA, The Resurrection Project, and Make the Road.

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American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) is a bipartisan coalition of 1,400+ CEOs, business owners, and trade associations across the country. ABIC promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens.

American Families United (AFU) is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) non-profit organization established in 2006. AFU proposes practical solutions to Congress and supports efforts to advance legislation that affects U.S. citizens married to foreign nationals. To show your support, click here.

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