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Dreamers, National Business and Education Leaders, Immigrant Advocates Mark 10th Anniversary of DACA
Leaders call on Congress to legislate pathway to citizenship for all Dreamers, with or without DACA
WASHINGTON – Today, #WithDACA—a coalition of the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), TheDream.US, FWD.us, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Pre-Health Dreamers, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and United We Dream—marked the 10th Anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and demanded that Congress pass a path to citizenship for America’s Dreamers, those who came to the U.S. as children, whether or not they qualify for DACA.
Event emcee ABIC executive director Rebecca Shi was joined by several Members of Congress who spoke at the event, including U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) and U.S. Representatives Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Raul Ruiz (D-CA). Others, including Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), offered statements.
“We know there are two open jobs for every American,” said Shi. “If our Members of Congress are serious about easing labor shortage, inflation and the high food and gas prices hammering every American family, then we need to get serious about immigration solutions like the Dream Act. We have over 100 Senators and Representatives to visit today with this message: If you’re serious about inflation and not just giving us theater, then you need to pass immigration reform this year.”
“More than 800,000 Dreamers have [since DACA’s implementation] been allowed to become full participants” in America “as teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers,“ said Sen. Durbin. “They pay an estimated $5.7 billion in federal taxes.” Now, he said, “we must pass immigration reform to secure the future of DACA recipients and more. An overwhelming bipartisan majority [of Americans] want Congress to do something.”
“I was six years old when my parents, who were doctors in Mexico, left everything behind to give us a safer and better future. Having DACA meant that I could work, drive and go to college without fear of deportation. But there were still many obstacles,” said Dreamer and TheDream.US alumna Indira Islas. “This country is at risk of losing the talent and skills it needs now more than ever. It is time to pass permanent bipartisan legislation so we can fully participate in the country we call home.”
“At Microsoft, we have 88 colleagues who are Dreamers. Despite that uncertainty, they get up every day and give us the best of their talent and skills as software engineers, accountants and lawyers, said Portia Wu, Managing Director, Public Policy, US Government Affairs, Microsoft. “Dreamers want and need certainty, and America’s businesses want and need certainty for Dreamers. We urge Congress to pass a bipartisan legislative solution to provide permanent protection for our nation’s Dreamers.”
“The only country they’ve ever called home is the United States of America, and the only flag they pledge allegiance to is the U.S. flag,” said Sen. Menendez. “We’re calling on the Biden administration to use its executive authority to protect as many undocumented immigrants as possible–to expand DACA eligibility, to defend that position in court, and to shield DACA recipients from deportation in the event that the courts rule the wrong way and these recipients lose their [legal] status.”
“I represent a district in South Florida that is probably the ultimate melting pot in the U.S. I believe Dreamers are Americans—there’s no other way to put it. They go to school, pay taxes and serve in the military,” said Rep. Salazar. “There are 5,100 Dreamers in my district who contribute more than $1 million each year to our economy. They make my city and our country better.”
“Dreamers have graduated high school many times as valedictorians, gone on to college and grad school and become teachers, nurses, doctors and frontline workers in so many sectors that were critical during the pandemic,” said Sen. Padilla. “They put their health on the line for this nation and deserve better than to live in fear and uncertainty.”
“Congress has used DACA as a band-aid instead of delivering lasting protections for over 800,000 of us who are stuck in a state of legal limbo and millions more in our communities who never qualified for DACA protections in the first place,” said United We Dream Executive Director Greisa Maritnez Rosas. “The stakes continue to be high. The forces working against us are not shy about what they want: to end DACA and put all immigrants on a path towards deportation. Immigrant youth and our families will continue to fight unapologetically. We needelected leaders to do their job and pass permanent legislation now.”
Rep Newhouse: “For more than 10 years, Dreamers have been kept in legal limbo. I don’t think they should be used as pawns in a political game… Congress can no longer continue to kick the can down the road. We have to have a permanent solution signed into law that includes border protection. But no longer can these young people be held hostage. Let’s get this legislation passed.”
Rep. Ruiz: “DACA has been a rocket booster for our economy and for Dreamers. In my district, they contribute $300 million to the GDP. They are our doctors, nurses, essential workers, engineers, business owners and job creators…Enough is enough! Hardworking immigrants doing essential jobs on the front lines of the [COVID] pandemic should not live in fear of deportation.”
Sen. Cortez-Masto: “I am from Nevada and proud that a third of my population are Latinos, Dreamers who are essential workers and farm workers. They belong here. They contribute to our economy. It is incumbent on the rest of the community to support them. Businesses need to be here supporting all of you. Many Dreamers are now adults and deserve the right to be on a pathway [to citizenship]. How much more do they have to prove? Now is the time to make this happen.”
Rep. Mike Simpson: “As we all know, Dreamers find themselves in a precarious legal situation through no fault of their own. Congress needs to find a compassionate and realistic solution to the unpredictability offered by the courts and pass legislation that will resolve Dreamers’ status once and for all, while also making other necessary reforms to our nation’s broken immigration system.”
Kim Wilcox, Chancellor, University of California-Riverside, member, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration: “DACA recipients are vital members of our society. They are our students, colleagues, and neighbors. Through their work and study, they help lay the foundation of better communities. And they deserve certainty and permanent status.”
Irma Becerra, President, Marymount University, member, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration: “DACA has been a lifeline for tens of thousands of Dreamers across the country, but it’s under constant threat and [is used as a] political football from administration to administration—while the lives of so many young people hang in the balance. These young people are American in every way and are making our nation stronger, boosting our economy by contributing their skills and talents in fields like nursing, business, IT and criminal justice. However, they face great difficulty in putting themselves through college because they can’t receive federal financial aid. We cannot afford to turn our backs on our Dreamers who give America their best.”
DACA’s success has unleashed the economic potential of almost 800,000 people, allowing them to contribute to our economy, start families, buy homes, access healthcare, build businesses, and bring their talents to the industry sectors where they’re most needed. Three-quarters of DACA participants in the workforce – 343,000 people – are essential workers. 34,000 provide healthcare services and 11,000 work tirelessly keeping our hospital and clinic facilities up and running. As our nation faces a teacher shortage, there are 20,000 educators who are DACA recipients working with kids in classrooms across the country. About 100,000 DACA recipients work in the nation’s food supply chain, roles that are more important than they have ever been.
But, for too long, DACA participants have been vulnerable to government indecision, sowing anxiety, instability and legal limbo in their lives. And DACA’s strict timeframes omit thousands of individuals who need it. More than 427,000 undocumented students are currently enrolled in post-secondary institutions, and of these, less than half (181,000) are DACA-elligible. Similarly every year, nearly 100,000 undocumented students graduated U.S. high schools, but only one-quarter are DACA-eligible.
DACA has been a transformative program for both its recipients and the country, demonstrating why expanding opportunities for immigrants is good for all of America – but it’s not enough. Now is the time to build on the successes of DACA and bring forward a bi-partisan legislation that provides a path to citizenship to all Dreamers, those with or without DACA. The future of our country depends on it.
American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) is a bipartisan coalition of over 1,200+ CEOs, business owners, and trade associations across 16 mostly red and purple states. ABIC Action promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens.
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) was founded in 1986 to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees. CHIRLA is the largest immigrant rights organization in California and a strong proponent of humane, sensible, and regional policies that respect the value and dignity of migrants and immigrants. CHIRLA relies on the love and vision of our community to organize and build power among people, institutions, and organizations to change public opinion and craft progressive policies that promote human, civil and labor rights for everyone.
FWD.us is a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential. For too long, our broken immigration and criminal justice systems have locked too many people out of the American dream. Founded by leaders in the technology and business communities, we seek to grow and galvanize political support to break through partisan gridlock and achieve meaningful reforms. Together, we can move America forward.
National Immigration Law Center (NILC) Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the leading advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their loved ones. NILC’s mission is grounded in the belief that everyone living in the U.S. — regardless of race, gender/gender identity, immigration, and economic status — should have equal access to justice, resources, and educational and economic opportunities that enable them to achieve their full human potential.
Pre-Health Dreamers Pre-Health Dreamers provides resources to undocumented students pursuing in health-related programs, including nursing, medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, and research. Over 2,700 students have received professional training, and 240 students have received individualized career guidance. Over 300 of our participants have graduated or are in their first year as medical doctors or health professionals. As a result of our partnership and discussions with the AAMC, more than fifty medical schools now accept DACA recipients. We have established partnerships with NILC, the President’s Alliance, and other organizations, which aid in guiding our advocacy efforts by analyzing policies that assist undocumented students pursuing health-related careers and comparing them to health-related program guidelines.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for immigrant youth, having provided more than 8,750 college scholarships to undocumented students attending 70+ partner colleges in 19 states and Washington, DC.
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 800,000 members, over 100 local groups and a reach of over 5 million per month. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.