June 22, 2022

Durbin: If We Want to Ease Inflation and Help Solve America's Worker Shortage, We Need to Drastically Increase the Number of Immigrants We Welcome to America

Durbin calls on his Republican colleagues to join Democrats in moving forward on immigration reform before the midterm elections to help fight inflation

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke about the pressure inflation is putting on working American families and one way that Congress can help – drastically increasing the number of immigrants we welcome into the United States to help ease labor shortages.

“Inflation is the word on everyone’s mind. We see proof of it plastered on gas stations throughout the country and in the aisles of our grocery stores,” Durbin said.  “Instead of passing legislation to help reduce the cost of essential goods and services like prescription drugs and child care, many are pointing the finger of blame at the Biden Administration as if he invented inflation or isn’t doing his best to end it.  Despite the fact that it was former President Trump who urged the Federal Reserve to keep the money printer running at the start of the pandemic and that Republicans opposed a bill that would prevent big oil companies from price gouging, we see arguments that are made totally on a political level.”

Durbin continued, “There is one driver of inflation that is within our control – labor shortages. We have twice as many jobs that need to be filled in this country as unemployed people to fill them.  What can we do? … Under the policies of the previous administration and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as lengthy backlogs, America has experienced a marked decline in immigration and it’s had a direct and detrimental impact on working families… This decline in immigration is hurting working Americans and contributing to inflation.”

Durbin went on to argue that if we want to solve America’s worker shortage, we need to drastically increase the number of immigrants we welcome into this country.  Providing a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants would boost our nation’s GDP by more than $1 trillion over the next ten years and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“According to the Economic Policy Institute, undocumented immigrants already pay nearly $12 billion in state and local taxes annually, but many of them are not on the books.  By providing them a path to legal status, we could double the amount of federal tax revenue our nation collects from this group.  That’s money that will fund the construction of roads and bridges, and make Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments.  That’s especially important when you consider the growing number of senior citizens in America who rely on these programs,” Durbin said.

During his speech, Durbin also shared the story of Dr. Alfredo Quiñones—more commonly known as Dr. Q.  Today, Dr. Q is the Chair of Neurologic Surgery at Mayo Clinic.  But decades ago, when he first arrived in the United States as a teenager, he was an undocumented farmworker.  He earned a little more than three dollars an hour picking crops in the San Joaquin Valley.

Eventually, Dr. Q began working as a welder for a railroad company in the area.  And one day, he suffered a bad injury after falling 18 feet into an empty petroleum tank.  When he woke up in the hospital, Dr. Q decided to pursue his passion.  He enrolled in the University of California Berkeley and wrote his honors thesis on neuroscience.  That caught the attention of the admissions officers at Harvard Medical School, where he was accepted.

Dr. Q studied hard, and discovered his calling: neurosurgery. And today, he removes about 250 brain tumors every year.  Outside of the operating room, Dr. Q devotes countless hours to his pioneering research with the modest goal of curing cancer.  And he’s exploring novel methods—like using human fat cells to fight brain cancer.

“How many other Dr. Qs are out there hiding in the shadows of our immigration system? Isn’t it time we find out?” Durbin asked.  “In the meantime, I’d like to pose a simpler question to my Republican colleagues – if you genuinely are interested in addressing inflation, will you help us move forward on this issue before the election?  Your willingness to work on immigration reform will reveal the answer.  It’s one of the most consequential steps we can take to combat inflation.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

-30-