NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In just his first few hours in office, President Joe Biden has already signed several immigration executive orders as president. His plan for immigration reform culminates in a bill headed to Congress which includes a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and provides aid to Central America. But it could also have economic repercussions here in Nashville.
Nearly 100,000 people make up Nashville's Latino community. Now as Biden takes office, local leaders are hopeful his immigration plan will mean a brighter future for Nashville's immigrant population.
“It’s an economic imperative and a moral imperative to do something about immigration,” said President & CEO of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Yuri Cunza.
Biden's plan would undo much of President Trump's immigration policies, while paving an eight year path to citizenship and expanding DACA.
"I think that our community is not really a community that is taken into account much," said Cunza. He believes if passed, the plan could lift some of the stigma immigrants in Nashville face. "They are also human beings, like anybody else, and we have dreams and we have aspirations and we want prosperity for our families, for our children, for our spouse, for our parents."
Immigration lawyer Mario Ramos said the last four years have been the most difficult for him. "So in order to grow the city you need more workers and more workers come from outside," he said.
Ramos is optimistic the plan will pass- something he said will benefit Nashville's economy in the long-run.
"Trump had a plan but it was kind of the opposite plan, but in terms of recent- say the last six presidents- this was the only one I can remember that had a plan from the beginning," said Ramos.
Above all, Cunza said it is a symbol of hope. "We hope to be of help, to be instruments of change in a way and, well, we look to a better day."
United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) Wednesday released the following statement on the Biden Administration’s executive actions and legislative proposal to overhaul America’s immigration system:
“The legislative proposal to grant amnesty and a path to citizenship to those who have come here illegally, and the executive action today to halt construction of the border wall pose significant security risks, encourage uncontrolled immigration, and undermine opportunities for American workers. These proposals inspire lawlessness, enable the flow of illegal drugs and human trafficking, and threaten Tennessee communities already hurting due to the ongoing pandemic. Our priorities must be to continue to secure our border, strengthen our legal immigration system, and protect jobs for hardworking Americans.”