As an immigration attorney in Colorado, I have had the great fortune of working with numerous “Dreamers” or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients over the years. It is eternally gratifying knowing that what I am doing is good for Colorado, the United States and these deserving individuals. Dreamers — young people brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own — contribute to our shared prosperity, at both the national level and the local level.
Take for example, Corina who graduated high-school with honors after arriving here in the third grade and now works in the nursing industry. Or Adolfo who started kindergarten in Colorado and now owns a successful painting business after graduating from high school. Or Alma who got her GED in Colorado and is now able to participate in her children’s school activities without fear of being ripped away from them.
Corina, Adolfo and Alma are not alone. Almost 800,000 young people — full of energy and creativity — have benefitted from the DACA program since it began in 2012. However, the current administration has thrown the lives of Dreamers into turmoil and fear by rescinding the DACA program. In the wake of the president’s rescission of DACA, every day that passes means that more Dreamers are losing their ability to work and have protection from removal.
Congress needs to step in — protecting Dreamers is a win for all of us! Congress can do this now by passing legislation that will permanently protect Dreamers from deportation, provide them with lawful status, and recognize them as the Americans they are.
Protecting Dreamers who have built their lives here and are a vibrant part of the fabric of our communities is not only the just and moral thing to do, it is a win economically. According to data from the Center for American Progress, if Dreamers are given a path to legal status and eventual citizenship, we’ll see a cumulative increase in national GDP over 10 years of $281 billion. A predicted “education bump” by Dreamers completing the educational requirements to qualify to remain in the U.S. could push this benefit as high as $728.4 billion over a decade. On a per capita basis, passing the Dream Act is calculated to raise the average incomes of all Americans as much as $273 annually.
In Colorado, the direct estimated economic benefits are an annual GDP gain of $438 million and up to an annual GDP gain of $1,46 billion with the education bump. Data is available at:americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2017/10/26/441298/the-state-by-state-economic-benefits-of-passing-the-dream-act/.
And the process is akin to “extreme vetting” — The Dream Act would require applicants to undergo lengthy, rigorous and detailed national security and criminal background checks. Applicants would also have to pay an application fee and demonstrate that they meet certain higher education, military service or employment requirements.
I urge Congress to stand up for Dreamers and for our nation. We need them to pass real bipartisan legislation that will protect Dreamers and help our economy before Congress goes home for the holidays.
Don’t waste any more time. This is a win-win!