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By Daniel Garza
The recent Supreme Court ruling on DACA – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – provides a brief moment of relief for Dreamers but maintains the uncertainty that has plagued DACA since it was launched more than eight years ago. Although the Court did not allow the termination of DACA to be implemented at this moment, it made clear the program can be canceled, which makes it more important than ever that Congress act to provide permanent legal status to Dreamers and certainty to the communities they serve.
The Dreamers – undocumented young people brought here as children – know no other home than the United States. They’re students, workers, men and women in the armed services, and members of our families and communities. Our country will be better off if Congress and the president agree on a process for them to earn permanent legal status, so they have the certainty they need to plan their lives and contribute more to their communities.
Lots of politicians tell us they agree, and when they ask for our votes, they vow to deliver. But once the election is past, they offer a slew of reasons why things aren’t actually so simple. That top priority they promised can’t actually get done now, they say. But if you support them in the next election, that’s when things will magically happen.
In the Hispanic community, we’re all too accustomed to hearing that. We understand that enacting reforms isn’t easy. It can take years of effort. But that’s what we expect of our leaders – a willingness to do the hard work of reaching across the aisle, finding allies, and building momentum. Now is the perfect time to begin that hard work.
Right now, there are about 30,000 Dreamers contributing as health care workers, across the country fighting on the front lines against COVID-19. Others are embedded elsewhere in our economy paying taxes, serving in the military, and many are still in school getting ready to contribute as the future of our nation. It’s estimated that Colorado is home to nearly 15,000 DACA recipients, and that Dreamers annually contribute roughly $420 million in spending power, after taxes.
We shouldn’t be content with empty promises.
This issue affects all Americans. The Dreamers come from a variety of nations and backgrounds, but what they have in common is that the decision to come to the United States was made for them, while they were young. Dreamers are students, businesspeople, teachers, doctors, lawyers – young men and women of every stripe. We would all benefit if Congress and the president came together and made a decision.
Poll after poll shows that wide majorities want Congress to address immigration, and they also show strong support for allowing Dreamers to gain legal status and eventually become citizens. This is the perfect issue to begin to address the logjam that has held up action on immigration for years. We who care about immigration should make clear to our elected representatives that the time for partisan tactics is over and the time for common ground is now.
Daniel Garza is president of The LIBRE Initiative
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