Since September, when the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, young immigrants’ lives have been thrown into crisis and uncertainty. Nearly 30,000 young people in Arizona have benefited from the DACA program, which in turn has helped to strengthen our state’s college campuses, workplaces and communities.
Now, the clock is ticking for Congress to do something to protect “dreamers.” The crisis is real, the solution is needed urgently, and our state’s leading elected officials should step up and deliver — for all of our benefits.
The call starts right here at home. Arizona needs Gov. Doug Ducey to echo our call for the Dream Act to give our state’s dreamers a chance to continue making our state strong.
While Arizona’s past was once tainted by the likes of the heinously anti-immigrant SB 1070, today we can be compassionate leaders who can come together around legislation that can give young people who love and serve America a path to citizenship. Gov. Ducey can join a growing bipartisan list of governors in voicing their support for the Dream Act, and urge Sen. John McCain and Rep. Martha McSally to recognize the urgency of the crisis facing dreamers and help find a legislative solution before the end of the year.
While many of our state’s top elected officials have voiced support for dreamers in theory, Sen. Jeff Flake has been the exception in recognizing the urgency of the situation and pushing for a bill resolving dreamers’ status be passed before the end of the year.
The solution isn’t controversial, but rather welcomed by the American public, including Arizonans. DACA was a popular and successful program that benefited about 700,000 young immigrant recipients and the country as a whole. Dreamers are young Americans in all but their paperwork, and our state and country is strengthened when they can fulfill their potential by obtaining higher education and fully contribute to our state by joining the workforce.
According to the Center for American Progress, Dream Act eligible individuals in the workforce would add $585 million annually in the long run to our state’s GDP, with the number rising to nearly $2 billion annually if this young immigrant population could access higher education in sufficient numbers. And workforces across our state and the country wouldn’t lose valued employees to congressional inaction.
While President Trump and some Republican leaders continue to tout a false March 2018 “deadline” facing DACA recipients, the truth is that dreamers are already losing status and are already being targeted by this administration.
When announcing the end of DACA, the administration also created an arbitrary October renewal deadline for hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients. About 22,000 DACA recipients missed this deadline and are now losing their status at a rate of 122 per day. And as new research from the National Immigration Forum and the Niskanen Center shows, it will take seven months to set up a program, when and if Congress does its job and passes dreamer legislation.
As a result, we don’t have time to wait.
The most powerful reminders of why we need to pass the Dream Act are personal, not just economic.
Living under the fear of deportation, dreamers across the country have been standing up and telling their stories, offering powerful reminders about why resolving their status is good for America. Meanwhile, dreamers are continuing to visit the offices of their lawmakers, urging them to take action and support dreamers.
Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Martha McSally are among the lawmakers we are counting on. It’s time they moved past vague words of support and stood up on behalf of dreamers by working to pass a legislative fix this year.