CHICAGO, IL – Today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined Chicago business leaders and DACA recipients to highlight the important impact of immigrants and Dreamers in the Chicago community. During a roundtable discussion at Microsoft Technology Centers in Chicago, participants discussed the economic impact of legal immigration and the need to protect and expand opportunities for immigrants to continue to contribute to our communities and economy.
During the dialogue, former Director of USCIS, Leon Rodriguez, conveyed the value and energy that Dreamers and other immigrant communities contribute to this nation, the economy and their families. Senator Durbin also affirmed his commitment to support Dreamers and reiterated the urgency of defending the over 41,000 DACA recipients residing in Illinois.
“The DACA program has given hundreds of thousands of young people a chance to come out of the shadows and contribute more fully to the country call home. We’ve witnessed them graduate college, start businesses, and give back to their communities in many ways,” Senator Durbin said. “The need for the Dream Act is no less urgent following the Supreme Court’s decision, which does not change the reality that tens of thousands of Dreamers are losing their work permits and protection from deportation. This crisis isn’t going away, and I will not rest until these young people and their families have the future in America that they deserve.”
The roundtable comes days after the March 5th deadline given to congress by President Trump to pass legislative protections for Dreamers. Chirayu Patel, DACA recipient and Asset Manager said, “I hope that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle can come together to find a solution to protect Dreamers so that I can continue to work on my dreams and contribute to my community. This uncertainty means desperation from the educational conference that I started over 10 years ago and is attended by over 1000 high school students from across the country. However, I am still not deterred and with support of fellow Dreamers and friends I will continue to build my life in the only country I know as home.”
At the roundtable, speakers representing Illinois’ business and tech companies called for Congress to take immediate action before nearly 800,000 Dreamers lose their work authorization and become priorities for deportation to countries they barely remember. Fiona McEntee, Founder of McEntee Law Group said, “As an immigrant, an immigration attorney for over 10 years, and a mother of two young children, I see first-hand the positive impact the Dreamers have in our lives, our community, our country. Congress needs to step up and allow them to finally feel secure in the only place they have ever known as home. Now is the time to protect our Dreamers. Congress must act now.”
The overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers because they understand that they make meaningful contributions to the wellbeing of the social and economic fabric of our nation. They are parents and students, engineers, nurses, and entrepreneurs.
“We are committed to fighting for a permanent legislative solution to ensure that these young people can continue to live, work, and contribute to communities across the United States without the daily fear of deportation,” said David Adeleye, Midwest Director, FWD.us. “Our nation — and these Dreamers — deserve better. 86% of Americans are behind them. No bill will be perfect, but inaction in the face of this crisis is unacceptable.”
Illinois alone stands to lose an immense $2.2 billion in GDP over the next decade if these hardworking individuals are torn from their families and ripped away from the workforce.
Additional quotes from today’s roundtable participants:
“The two restaurants I own in Chicago were built on the American dream. Thinking about how that dream could be demolished because of Congress’ inability to act is heartbreaking. I hope Congress can come to a solution soon for Dreamers so we can continue to contribute to the only place we call home.” – Rick Rodriguez, DACA recipient and Founder, Son of a Butcher and WHISK
“Over 80% of the American people support citizenship for Dreamers. Now is the time for Congress to act to pass legislation overwhelmingly backed by our fellow Americans!” – Bob Palay, Past Chairman & CEO, Cellular Dynamics International
“Dreamers are no less American than you or I. They’ve embraced our values by every measure, they pay over $2B in taxes, they fill jobs in high demand. This is awful for business, it’s immoral to do, and it’s antithetical to all that America is supposed to represent.” – Steven Dyme, Co-founder & CEO, Flowers for Dreams
“Immigrants make up a valuable part of Chicago’s workforce and economy – over 20 percent of all business owners in the Chicago metropolitan area are immigrants. We must encourage those in office to find a solution for the Dreamers who are an integral part of Chicago’s diversity, workforce and rich culture.” – Michael Reever, SVP for Strategy and Government Relations, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce