Congress faces a jam-packed legislative schedule this fall, and President Trump recently added a major item to the to-do list when he rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Congress has only a couple months to come up with a permanent solution for the young immigrants known as Dreamers, who once again find themselves in legal limbo. It needs to act quickly to protect these young people and preserve their contributions to our economy and our society.
Approximately 800,000 individuals have had their legal status thrown into doubt by the elimination of DACA. They were brought to the U.S. illegally as children through no fault of their own and have since lived here and become active members of our society. Since President Obama established DACA in 2012, many of these young people have enrolled in the program in good faith, gaining the legal ability to attend school and work.
As a result, they have become even further integrated into our communities and our economy. According to some estimates, approximately 700,000 are employed in the U.S., performing a wide variety of jobs. If the DACA program is allowed to end, eventually none of these individuals will be legally allowed to remain—let alone work—in America. This outcome would be contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see strong expressions of support within Congress and the Trump administration for providing permanent relief to DACA recipients. Both parties in Congress have offered ideas that would protect Dreamers from deportation and put them on a track toward lawful permanent residency and eventually citizenship. Now it’s up to our leaders to unite behind a single legislative solution.
The clock is ticking as another deadline is fast approaching. This Thursday, October 5, is the last day that DACA recipients are eligible to apply for an extension of their legal status. There are about 150,000 immigrants eligible to reapply for a renewable two-year work permit. For these and all other Dreamers, a permanent solution is desperately needed.
DACA recipients are our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The Chamber urges Congress to work quickly through the details of a legislative solution that treats these individuals with dignity and fairness. The Chamber stands ready to work with our leaders to ensure that the legislation is consistent with our nation’s values and the best interests of our economy.