When President Trump announced in September that he would not continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there was genuine cause for concern. Trump’s well-founded rationale was that Congress, not the president, should pass an immigration fix.
But Congress isn’t known for getting stuff done.
And for the 10,500 DREAMers in Utah over the last five years, losing DACA status is terrifying.
The DACA program defers deportation of persons who were brought to the United States as children under the age of 16, who meet other requirements. President Obama started the DACA program after Congress failed to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Minors – or DREAM – Act. Conservatives have been crying executive overreach ever since.
With Trump’s declaration ending the program, 76 percent of DACA permits will expire on their current date of expiration, which could be as soon as March 6, 2018.
Rep. Mia Love has been a leader in this area, and has consistently called for legislative protections for DACA recipients. She recently urged Speaker Paul Ryan to prioritize passing a legislative fix before Congress goes home for the holidays.
Love co-sponsored the bipartisan Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, (H.R. 1468), which provides a legal process for immigrants who were brought to the nation as children to eventually apply for permanent resident status.
Of DACA recipients, Love said, “They are, by all accounts, Americans.” She continued, “I don’t even know where people would be deported to because they don’t have families there anymore.”
Utah businesses joined Love in the call for Congress to pass a solution, and soon. Derek Miller, President and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, said Utah industries are already reporting that it is hard to find qualified employees. The fact is, restaurants, farm and construction companies cannot succeed without immigrant workers.
“If we don’t have a solution by the end of this year, we are going to see a human tragedy play out in our state, our community and our country,” Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said. Utah DACA residents contribute $22 million in taxes annually.
According to a Morning Consult and Politico poll, 78 percent of registered voters support allowing DREAMers to remain in the country.
In other words, it’s a winning issue for any politician. If Congress does not pass a legislative solution to the DACA problem soon, this bipartisan freebie will become an albatross around every Republican politician’s neck.