Roughly 800,000 Dreamers facing uncertainty, risk of deportation as DACA program comes under attack
WASHINGTON, DC – Elected officials, business executives, and community leaders came together in Denver today to highlight the urgent threat of a repeal to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that allows nearly 800,000 young Dreamers who came to the U.S. as children and live, work, and contribute to our communities. Ten Republican states – led by Texas Attorney Governor Ken Paxton – have threatened to sue President Trump if he does not eliminate the DACA program by September 5th. Speakers at today’s press conference discussed the important contributions that Dreamers have made to the United States, the devastating impact of a potential DACA repeal, and the need for the bipartisan DREAM Act, which would create a legalization process for roughly two million hardworking young people who came here as minors.
Speakers at Wednesday’s press conference included U.S. Congressman Jared Polis, Colorado Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Metropolitan State University President Dr. Janine Davidson, FWD.us Communications Director Peter Boogaard and Jeff Wasden, President of the Colorado Business Roundtable. Marissa Molina and Marco Dorado, both Dreamers who call Colorado home, also shared the transformative impact of the DACA program on the lives of their families and their communities.
Colorado is home to more than 17,000 DACA recipients, most of whom are gainfully employed or enrolled in school. Beyond the devastating moral consequences, eliminating the DACA program would remove almost 800,000 workers from the U.S. workforce at a cost of $460 billion in national GDP lost over the next decade, and Colorado’s economy would lose a devastating $857 million dollars over the same period.
Below are quotes from program participants:
“For over 17,000 young aspiring Americans in Colorado, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program means the difference between openly living and thriving in the only country they have ever known as home, and hiding out in fear of deportation and forcible separation from their family and friends. These young aspiring Americans deserve a permanent solution, and Congress must act to immediately address the hardship experienced by these Dreamers. I want them to know that I am on their side, and will continue to advocate for the continuation of the DACA program, and for a permanent solution in Congress,” said U.S. Congressman Jared Polis. “DACA recipients are Americans, and they belong here.”
“In Colorado, immigrants have always been an integral part of the fabric our community, and we are better off when DREAMers pursue an education and contribute to our communities. DACA has been a benefit, both for DREAMers and for our state’s economy. After five years, we see people getting jobs, advancing in their careers, and working toward that American Dream we all share,”said Colorado Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne.
“Denver’s young people striving to achieve deserve the opportunity to do so right here in the home they grew up in,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “I cannot fathom an American system that would not provide that opportunity to immigrant youth. The DACA program embodies everything that this nation is built on, and to eliminate this program would not only devastate our families and communities but go against who we are as a country. So Colorado leaders today stand indivisible on this simple fact that we all succeed when our children succeed and to create an economy built for the future we must prepare all of our youth to contribute and compete.”
“The city of Aurora is very proud of our diversity, and as Mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the nation, I am not interested in sending Dreamers to ICE facilities or through the deportation process. I believe Congress should focus its efforts on fixing the broken immigration system, and creating a path to legal status that is sensible, and neither punitive, nor extreme,” said Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan. “Immigration should not be a partisan issue any more than repairing our infrastructure should be a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats need to work together to find a solution. Quit the political drama and just fix it.”
“At MSU Denver, our values of diversity and access ensure we provide educational opportunity to all students, helping them find the key to giant locked doors. We want more students with the kinds of experiences that DACA students bring – not less,” said Metropolitan State University of Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D.
“DACA recipients have spent the last five years playing by the rules, contributing to our economy and working to better their local communities,” said FWD.us Communications Director Pete Boogaard. “Today, these Dreamers are nurses who care for our sick and elderly, teachers educating the next generation of American leaders, engineers who build homes and hospitals, and entrepreneurs who employ native-born workers. They contribute to this nation in meaningful ways that support our economy and benefit not only their families, but the nation as a whole. Eliminating the DACA program would have devastating consequences for our nation, and for the 800,000 Dreamers who would no longer be able to live, work and contribute to the country they call home.”
“When my DACA application was approved and I received my work permit in January of 2013, the trajectory of my life completely changed: I had the opportunity to do things many of my friends and classmates took for granted such as obtaining a driver’s license, building my credit, and having the ability to accept paid internship opportunities at places such as the Colorado Legislature and Morgan Stanley,” said DACA recipient Marco Dorado. “In the last five years since DACA has been in place, I’ve been able to fulfill my goal of graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in finance and as Student Body President, begin my professional career, support my family, and contribute to my community. I have achieved the American Dream my parents sought for my siblings and me nearly 23 years ago, and all of it is due to DACA and the impact it has had on my life.”
“Just as the financial burden of attending college as an undocumented student was becoming too great to overcome, the DACA program was announced, changing my life dramatically. Thanks to the new work opportunities that were opened up to me, I was able to finish my college education at Fort Lewis College and be the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree,” said DACA recipient Marissa Molina. “I wanted to give back to my community and to the country that had given me so much so I joined Teach for America and became a high school teacher. As a teacher I worked tirelessly to create pathways of opportunities for young people in our communities.”
“The threats to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and our nation’s Dreamers, along with ill-thought-out, isolated legislation threaten to do more harm than good. Our immigration system is outdated, complex and broken. We need leadership from DC that creates significant, meaningful reform,” said Jeff Wasden, President of the Colorado Business Roundtable. “We need an immigration system that not only ensures our safety but also supports economic vitality, competitiveness, and cultural values. Using children who were brought here through no fault of their own as pawns in a political game devoid of strategy and leadership is not the right approach.
“Our economy demands that we reform our immigration system. Ending DACA would cost Colorado more than $856.9 million in annual GDP losses and it would further strain our labor market at a time of historically low unemployment,” said Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Our 2.3 percent unemployment rate creates more need than ever for an educated workforce and stronger workforce pipeline – and that includes the DREAMers who we have already invested in through our K-12 system. We need all of Colorado’s kids to get to and through a post-secondary education as well. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce supports not only DACA but every one of these kids who we want and need in our future workforce.”