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The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Omaha Chamber are among 60 chambers of commerce from 26 states calling on congressional leadership to pass the Dream and Promise Act of 2019.

The act would give a path to citizenship to immigrants who were unlawfully brought to the United States as children and for those who came legally, and were permitted to stay, after war or natural disaster devastated their homelands.

Immigrants who fit these categories are either part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or they have been granted temporary protected status. 

In an open letter, business leaders from the state's two largest cities say these immigrant populations play an important role in keeping the nation's workforce young and competitive, contributing to the tax base, and creating jobs for all Americans.

“Dreamers and TPS holders here in Nebraska are major contributors to our economic success,” said Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

“Congress must act to allow these hardworking individuals to remain in our communities, to everyone’s benefit," she said in a news release.

David G. Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber, said talent is needed across the country.

“Progress depends on everyone. Nebraska’s demographic shift points to an even more important role in our economy for Dreamers and TPS holders who pay taxes, earn college degrees and professional certifications. They are talented and committed individuals and integral to our shared growth.”

The chambers pointed to research by New American Economy, a coalition of business leaders and mayors pushing for policymakers to make comprehensive immigration reform.

New American Economy says there are more than 150,000 DACA-eligible individuals in Nebraska who earn $3.8 billion annually and contribute more than $949 million in total taxes, $344 million of which goes to state and local tax revenue.

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Assistant city editor

Shelly Kulhanek is assistant city editor.

Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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