MODESTO, CA – Congressman Jeff Denham (CA – 10) today joined Central Valley Dreamer Tomas Evangelista to reaffirm his support for Dreamers and the DACA program, and called on his colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to join together to pass legislation to protect Dreamers facing the imminent threat of a DACA repeal. Congressman Denham and Evangelista discussed the transformative effect that DACA has had on the young man’s life, and urged lawmakers to pass a legislative solution that allows 800,000 hardworking young people like Tomas across the country to continue working, paying taxes, and serving local communities and in the U.S. military without fear of deportation. FWD.us hosted the discussion.
Pointing to the 25,000 DACA-eligible individuals living in Stanislaus, Merced, and San Joaquin counties, Congressman Denham emphasized that Dreamers are significant drivers of the local economy. The congressman underscored that eliminating the DACA program without first passing a permanent legislative replacement would pull the rug out from under young immigrants who have known no other home outside the United States, and, beyond the grave moral implications, would cost the California economy almost $11 billion in annual GDP.
“Congress needs to act now to find a legislative solution for Dreamers who for years have been stuck in limbo,” said Congressman Denham. “Recent events only highlight the urgency of determining a path forward for those young adults, and I will continue to fight for them to be able to stay in the only home they have ever known.”
For Tomas Evangelista, a Dreamer who came to the United States as an infant, the DACA program has been transformative. His work permit has enabled him to pursue higher education and earn a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, and today Tomas works as a program manager for the nonprofit Latino Leadership Council, helping homeless Americans connect to the care they need.
“The DACA program changed my life. With DACA, I was able to graduate from California State University Stanislaus, give back to my community, pursue my dream of running track & field, and now work full time at a non-profit community organization,” said Central Valley DACA recipient Tomas Evangelista. “Barring renewals to the DACA program would force me from my job, and I would be made a priority for deportation. I hope Congress will pass a legislative solution that would allow hundreds of thousands of us Dreamers to continue contributing to our communities and serve the country we love and call home.”
DACA has unlocked countless economic opportunities for the nearly 800,000 young people across the United States, 200,000 of whom live in California. These individuals have been in the country since childhood, and have been able to live, work and contribute to their communities because of the work permit and temporary protection from deportation provided through the DACA program. In addition to accessing a work permit, DACA allows young Americans to obtain driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, pay taxes, enroll in college, take out mortgages and car loans, and better provide for their families. By any measure, program has been an overwhelming success, adding billions of dollars to the American economy since the five years it has been in place.
In California’s 10th Congressional District, represented by Congressman Denham, immigrants make up almost 20% of the population, pay $951.5 million in taxes annually, and possess annual spending power of $2.7 billion. In Stanislaus County alone, there are approximately 8,000 DACA-eligible individuals.
“We are deeply grateful for Congressman Denham’s extraordinary leadership to pass a bipartisan legislative solution to protect 800,000 hardworking Dreamers,” added Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us. “We urge his colleagues to join him in standing up for these incredible young people, so that DACA recipients can continue to live in the only country they know as home and make our economy and our communities stronger.”