By Brenda Hernandez
March 5 was the day the Department of Homeland Security Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was to end. With no solution being presented, our nation’s Dreamers are still awaiting an answer.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly asked federal lawmakers to pass a bill that would give the country’s 1.8 million Dreamers, who were all eligible for DACA, the opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship. Despite the fact that members of Congress have offered multiple bipartisan pieces of legislation to do so, Congress still has not passed a single bill.
If Congress continues to kick the can down the road, these young people eventually could be deported.
Oklahoma’s representatives in Washington must acknowledge that there’s no such thing as a perfect bill. Not everyone will be satisfied, but inaction would be devastating, not only for Dreamers, but for the U.S. economy and its workers as well.
Failure to pass a Dreamer bill would tear families apart. Three-quarters of DACA recipients have a spouse, child, or sibling who is an American citizen. While DACA beneficiaries would be deported to countries they don’t remember, their husbands and wives, daughters and sons and brothers and sisters would live in the United States without their loved ones. Can you imagine Congress splitting up your family?
In addition, more than 90 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed. In Oklahoma, they pay at least $17.4 million (https://itep.org/wp-content/uploads/2017DACA.pdf) in state and local taxes each year. The non-partisan Cato Institute estimates that, nationwide, it would cost American employers $6.3 billion to replace workers who are enrolled in DACA.
Six percent of DACA recipients have started their own companies, which means they’re producing jobs for native-born Americans. Hundreds, like Carlos R. who is enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, are studying in our state’s colleges and universities so they will be able to contribute to our economy and communities in the future.
If our representatives in Washington believe in family values and want our economy to continue to grow, they’ll vote for a bill to help the Dreamers.
A handful of politicians have insisted a Dreamer bill be combined with permanent reductions to legal immigration. The majority of voters don’t support this idea. According to the most recent
Gallup survey (http://news.gallup.com/poll/1660/immigration.aspx) on this question, two in three Americans think current legal immigration levels should stay the same or even increase.
That’s because Americans ultimately know that immigration is good for this country. Americans know that, today, immigration brings in young workers who help offset the large-scale retirement of the nation’s baby boomers.
Now it’s time for Congress to realize these facts, and act on them. The USA Act would let our Dreamers stay in this country and it would improve border security so we don’t face this problem in the future. It’s time to abandon other ideas that have no hope of helping the Dreamers, or our economy.
Representative Tom Cole, it’s time to pass this bill.
NOTE: Brenda Hernandez serves as the Co-Founder and for Community Relations at Tango PR.