Local British business owners rally for immigration proposal - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local British business owners rally for immigration proposal

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SODDY-DAISY, TN (WRCB) - Some local business owners are rallying support for a new immigration bill that hits close to home.  An English couple who owns a Soddy-Daisy flower shop hopes their story inspires others to push for a proposed bill.

Brits Suzi and Barry Rymill own Lometa's Flowers in Soddy-Daisy. They say under the current Immigration and Nationality Act, their future here is in jeopardy.

But, in just the last month a new bill was proposed in Congress that could affect hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs like them.

The Rymills moved from England seven years ago and opened Lometa's Flowers in extreme circumstances. British doctors said Barry's leg had to be amputated, while doctors here offered a surgery to save his leg...but there was a catch.

"The only way we could do the surgery was to live here," Suzi Rymill said.

They say their only legal option was what's called an E2 Investors Visa. They'd have to be significant investors in an American company.

"So that's what we did. We sold everything we had. We moved here with two suitcases each and our six-year-old daughter," Suzi said.

The flower shop blossomed and Barry's leg is great, but their Visas are coming up for renewal and if immigration officials don't think they're business is worthwhile, they face a 90-day deportation notice.

"Just can't imagine how we'd go on we've invested everything here," Barry Rymill said.

"We've invested our whole life savings in the country but we can be given 90 days to clear out," Suzi said.

But, now they have some new hope in the form of a bill introduced last month. The American Investment and Job Creation Act of 2012 is currently sitting in a subcommittee, which may send it to the House a Senate for approval.

It would allow entrepreneurs like the Rymills to be eligible for green cards, which they aren't as it is now.
The seven locals they employ are reaching out to Tennessee congressmen to vote for it if given the chance and hope others will too.

"If there was more people like that who did work as hard as they do, we would be in so much better condition than what the economy is right now," Lometa's Flowers employee Naomi Schwiger said.

"I feel like they contribute a lot by being here," Lometa's Flowers employee Charlotte Blake said.

The Rymills do pay taxes and contribute to Social Security, but even if their visas are renewed, they'll never be able to claim it. That is, unless they get green cards under this proposed act.

Again, it hasn't made it to the House, but they, along with business owners is several other states, are trying to get letters rolling into Congress ahead of a vote.

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