I am an Irish immigrant and a business owner and I am here to tell you today that immigration is good for business and good for our economy.

I would like to commend the Senate Gang of 8 and the President for recognizing the value of immigrants to our economy and for their call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration reform with a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers in this country would generate $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Compare that to the cost of mass deportations which would cost us $2.6 trillion!

Deporting all undocumented immigrants in Illinois would cost $11.4 billion in economic output, and nearly 120,000 jobs!

Immigration reform means a reliable legal workforce and an even playing field: Legalizing immigrant workers would protect honest employers from being undercut by unscrupulous competitors seeking to drive down wages by hiring undocumented workers. Immigration reform would also assure employers that our workers are legally authorized, and would not be subject to raids or enforcement actions.

Senator Durbin has long led the fight for Immigrant injustice, 12 years since he first introduced the Dream Act. I now call on his colleagues in Congress and in particular the Senate Gang of 8 to make sure that as many of the 11 million undocumented as possible are included in any immigration reform bill but of course excluding those with serious criminal backgrounds. We need to bring workers out of the shadows, not create another sub class by legalizing some and not others.

30 percent of the undocumented in this country are non Hispanic and that figure includes thousands of Irish who are here paying taxes, starting businesses and raising families. I ask our legislators to please include everyone in this reform bill and do not exclude men and women who want a fair shot at contributing to the life of this country. The Irish were very active in the recent Drivers license bill which was recently passed into law in Illinois.

I went to see the film "Lincoln"recently, it’s all about the abolition of slavery. President Lincoln stood his ground against the terrible abomination of the Black slavery and introduced the 13th amendment.

He righted a terrible wrong to a downtrodden people.

Today our Congress needs to stand up and finally fix our broken immigration system.

Don't forget at one stage we were all Immigrants.

*Billy Lawless is the Chairman for Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform.