In recent years, up to 300 volunteers have come to the State Capitol for the annual New Americans Celebration of the Coalition of Refugee Services Agencies. It was moved to virtual this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigrant stakeholders are calling for business support for a number of legislative proposals Georgia General Assembly They would improve access to talent and recognize the role of foreign-born workers in the economic vitality of the state.

One in seven Georgia Workers were born abroad, and these non-native residents own nearly a third of all businesses in the state. Their success helps boost the local economy and present Georgia as a welcoming environment for small businesses, relocation and interest groups argue.

The Coalition of Refugee Agencies (CRSA) practically repeated its annual New Americans Celebration last week, traditionally one of the largest advocacy events in the world State Capitol.

The CSRA logo has been featured on tote bags and beyond at previous New Americans Celebrations.

CRSA urges companies to lobby their lawmakers to propose legislation that removes barriers to higher education, professional assistance, licensing and medical care for the 1 million foreign-born residents, who make up roughly one-tenth of the state’s population should be.

Refugee and immigrant-owned companies provide jobs for 200,000 Georgians and had sales of more than $ 33 billion in 2018. Around 22 percent of workers in Georgia’s critical STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industry were born outside of the United States

“We’re always looking for input from the business world,” he said Darlene Lynch, chairwoman of the Business and Immigration Partnership for Georgia (BIG), A CRSA initiative that brings together business and citizen leaders to promote the economic empowerment of new Americans.

House resolution 11 aims to systematize this interaction in the State House and create a “House Study Committee for Innovative Ways to Maximize Global Talent in Georgia” – a challenge ranging from filling the factory entry position to recruiting executives abroad. The resolution has already gained broad support from both parties, co-author Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock) told Global Atlanta.

While the resolution would not have the force of law, its support sends a message before potentially controversial bills affecting immigrants, Ms. Lynch said.

Advocate for the dreamers’ in-state teaching

Mr Cantrell said House Bill 120 goes hand in hand with the HR 11 Study Committee.

The bill would offer tuition fees for Deferred action for child arrivals (DACA) recipients or “dreamers” – students who graduated from high schools in Georgia but have no legal status in the United States United States because they were brought here as young children.

“We must have equal educational and professional opportunities for all Georgians,” said Cantrell.

Co-author of Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), Mr. Cantrell and others, the bill has received supportive statements from business associations, including the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Homebuilders Association of Georgia, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the National Association of Independent Enterprises.

Stakeholders like I’ve been working on similar state legislation for the past two years to try to reach bipartisan consensus on tuition equality for dreamers, he said Sam Aguilar, Chairman in Georgia.

“At the state level, we focus on immigration policies that bring communities together and bring together stakeholders such as the business community, immigrant lawyers, and religious leaders to build broad consensus and change the culture of immigration debate in the Georgia General Assembly. Said Mr. Aguilar.

Mr. Carpenter and those who do the billing see it as a “firewall” between federal and state activities, Mr. Aguilar said. When the covenant Dream act Passports, undocumented students would be given a route to citizenship or permanent legal residence. However, Georgia DACA recipients would be eligible for HB 120 tuition regardless of their status.

“No matter what happens at the federal level, government efforts would be minimally affected,” he said.

Mr. Aguilar and others argue that for Dreamers, in-state tuition is a “workforce development solution” when many employers have difficulty finding good help. Improving access to higher education and creating a better prepared, more professional workforce, he said.

Supporting the healthcare workforce

Another bill in question HB 209 that would Create a Medicaid expansion program for eligible uninsured Georgians, including an option for small businesses to offer the program to employees.

This would help manage health care bills for immigrants who may not have health insurance, even though they play an important role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as doctors and nurses treating the disease and distributing vaccines.

With a fifth of all Georgian doctors and health workers born abroad, proponents stress the need for a policy change that will help these medical professionals meet their educational needs and obtain their professional licenses to address the labor shortage, particularly in rural parts of the US , counteract state, noted Omar Aziz, an Iraq-born refugee who leads the International Rescue Committee’s COVID-19 testing operation in Atlanta.

Georgia wants to relocate more refugees if the quotas rise

State legislative and advocacy efforts are taking place amid a spate of federal immigration and refugee resettlement activities.

With the Biden administration With the announcement of the US refugee quota widening to 125,000 for fiscal 2022, Georgia refugee aid groups are preparing to employ newcomers across the state.

The Atlanta outpost is already one of the IRC’s largest refugee resettlement outposts in the US and is hiring more staff Lauren Bowden, the agency’s career development coordinator.

“This [increase in refugee admissions] will affect us a lot. We’re very excited about it, ”she told Global Atlanta.

Georgia is usually the tenth state in terms of the number of refugees resettled to the US. Based on historical averages, a national refugee admission limit of 125,000 in FY22 would correspond to approximately 5,000 new arrivals in Georgia. About 2,700 of these would be relocated by IRC in Metro Atlanta, many of them in Clarkston.

During the New Americans Virtual Celebration, CRSA Chairman Jim Neal He was “very encouraged” to bring the US back to a higher level of refugee resettlement after the historic lows of recent years under the former president – with a revised upper limit for fiscal year 21 of 62,500 refugees Donald Trump.

The coalition affiliates must be ready to act, he said.

“We need to make sure we can provide safe, high quality reception and support [for refugees] and work through the process justly and fairly, ”he said, adding that resettlement in Georgia and at the national level has widespread public support.

Mr. Cantrell and Ms. Lynch are also confident that Georgian lawmakers will be interested in promoting the interests of refugees and immigrants through Resolution 11 of the House.

Over the next year, the HR 11 proposed study committee – consisting of five members of the General Assembly chosen by the Speaker of the House, one member of the business community, and one foreign-born member – will meet in various cities across the state to come up with ideas for legislation improves chances for the foreign-born Georgia.

“There is already a lot of noise on the committee, even though there are only five seats. But anyone can participate and contribute even if they’re not on the committee, ”Cantrell said, noting that many of his fellow State House colleagues represent high-immigrant districts or were overseas-born themselves. He emphasized the need for contributions from rural and metropolitan communities.

Beyond the Legislation: Career Initiatives

In addition to supporting the legislation, organizations like the IRC and Inspiration work with Georgian employers to find work for refugees. One of the most recent initiatives by the IRC is a Refugee internship program that suits refugees to Atlanta businesses.

Inspiritus Director of Refugee and Immigration Services Aimee Zangandou said her organization is helping refugees “take the first steps” and making them work within six months of arriving in the state.

Amplio Recruiting, An Atlanta-based recruitment agency that focuses on refugees sees 80 percent retention after three months, and after a year 73 percent of refugee workers are still employed in their companies.

It has nothing to do with us, “said Chris Chancey, Founder and CEO of Amplio, during a Next Generation Manufacturing discussion of alternative solutions for workers on Jan. 28.” It’s the fact that these people are highly motivated and in want to be able to contribute to the local economy and play a central role in the community and live out that American dream. ”

Ms. Lynch welcomed more members of the business community register with the BIG initiative to receive tailored updates on refugee and immigration issues or to engage in lobbying efforts.

“The question is what kind of state do we want anyone? That sets the tone for taking in refugees and immigrants, ”said Neal. “We want to make Georgia a state where everyone feels welcome and empowered. Take part in this work. “

to register Here to receive action alerts from CRSA. Read CRSA’s annual report Here.