Congress Must Protect Dreamers
This opinion column by TAB CEO Glenn Hamer was originally published by Rio Grande Guardian.
The Lone Star State is home to the nation’s second largest population of Dreamers, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. On average, these immigrants arrived in America at just seven years old, knowing no other place to be home and having ample time to settle into routines and build careers here over the past decade.
The recent ruling in State of Texas v. USA by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will have detrimental effects on not only Dreamers, but the entire state of Texas and the nation. While current recipients under the policy can continue renewing their status to remain in the country and work, the program isn’t open to any new eligible Dreamers. It also sets the wheels in motion for the policy to be fully terminated by the courts in the months ahead.
This decision is worrisome, particularly as we recognize DACA recipients’ impressive contributions to our state over the ten years since the policy’s inception. If DACA is truly ended permanently, our state stands to lose 5,000 jobs each month, including 400 healthcare workers and 300 teachers. This would be a terrible blow to our workforce right now as we are already in a severe labor crunch.
DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of eligible immigrants across the country to reach their full potential and contribute to our nation, but not without its share of hurdles to overcome. Time and again, the policy has faced threats in the form of executive action, legal battles and overall instability due to the temporary nature of deportation protections and work authorizations. Up until now, DACA has survived multiple challenges, but this most recent court ruling is the end of the line for the policy without congressional intervention.
Additionally, 89 percent of well-vetted DACA recipients in Texas have received high school diplomas, and 44 percent have completed some college education, proving that they are on a path towards great success that we all stand to benefit from. A thriving community of educated and hardworking Texans is what sets us all up for prosperity in the future, and Dreamers play an important role in that across the state.
Aside from being vital members and future members of our workforce – the DACA-eligible population in our state pays $963.4 million in taxes annually and has a total spending power of over $3 billion.
Texas truly relies on immigrants of all ages and skill levels to allow us to be the flourishing state we are today, with globally revered industries and capable workers keeping us on top – they are one reason that we are ranked as the Best State for Business. Dreamers deserve security and peace of mind. They should be able to continue to work without the fear of deportation.
Our leaders in Congress must finally work together in a bipartisan fashion to provide this protection by passing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Compromise is necessary. TAB stands ready to help.
Dreamers are Texans in every sense of the word: keeping vetted contributors in this country, legally, would free up resources as well as efforts to improve border security and enhance commercial activity.