ICYMI: TIME: The Koch Brothers Are Helping More Immigrants Get Help
(Washington, DC) – The LIBRE Initiative’s grassroots efforts in the Hispanic Community were profiled in TIME Magazine:
Through the Koch network’s LIBRE Initiative, volunteers and advisers are helping immigrants study for drivers’ license exams so they have some form of government ID, others prepare for citizenship tests and still others earn a G.E.D. And it doesn’t matter if they are here legally or not.
“We do not ask what anybody’s legal status. To us, that’s irrelevant. We want to help people drive. We let the politicians worry about whether someone is documented or not documented,” said Daniel Garza, a longtime Koch lieutenant who manages the network’s work in Spanish-speaking and Latino communities. “Our immigration system is broken. Real people are getting tied up in this,” he said as he awaited a plane in Abilene, Texas, bound for Orlando, Fla. “We want people to become legal as fast as possible and to get on with the business of assimilation.”
LIBRE has the stats at the ready: Roughly a third of Latinos only speak Spanish, roughly one-third of Latino adults do not have a high school diploma, as many as half of some Latino adults in some states don’t have driver licenses. (In each case, older Latinos are the biggest laggers and younger ones are outpacing their white peers.) Each is a barrier to higher wages and civic engagement. “If you’re faced with these conditions, you’re shut out of the marketplace,” Garza says. By one measure, Latinos who learn English have a lifetime earning ability that is quadruple those who speak only Spanish.
As the Koch network sees it, any immigration overhaul should have four major components: workers cannot be tied to a single employer in a way that leaves them little change for career advancement at rival companies, immigrants with legal status should be able to leave the country to visit their homelands, families should have the right to stay together and the system should not be overly punitive for immigrants in the country illegally. “Let’s not further disadvantage them. Let them get in the back of line,” Garza says.
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