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The Justice Department announced in September that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in March 2018. DACA gives temporary legal status to nearly 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children through no fault of their own. In announcing the end of this program, President Trump started a six-month countdown for Congress to come up with a permanent solution for the Dreamers. Tomorrow, December 5, marks the halfway point—and we’re still waiting.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is asking Congress to act by the end of the year to protect the Dreamers. We are passionate about this issue because it is a matter of principle and fairness. Most Dreamers have been in the U.S. for as long as they can remember—they know no other home. The only difference between them and their American peers is their legal status.
Just as important, protecting Dreamers is critical for our economy. Hundreds of thousands of these young people contribute their talents to our economy in integral ways. Some DACA recipients have already lost their legal status. The longer Congress waits, the more Dreamers will lose their ability to work here legally and become subject to immediate deportation. This will cause serious disruptions in the business operations of the companies that employ them, which is why many business leaders have spoken out and demanded action on this issue.
In some cases, Dreamers not only work for American companies. They launch American companies. Javier Velazquez is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who started a digital marketing business, Uproot Online, which employs six Americans. He told his story at a recent event at the Chamber.
“I’m proud to create jobs for Americans and help our economy grow by paying taxes,” Velazquez said. “I now help more than 100 small businesses in the U.S. and Canada grow their digital footprint.” But Velazquez knows that without congressional action his days of contributing to the country he loves are numbered. “I won’t be able to continue operating my company or help small businesses compete in their local economies.”
If Congress doesn’t act soon, Velazquez’s American Dream will come to an end, along with the dreams of 800,000 others like him. Losing these young people would be a tragedy not just for them but for American businesses and our entire economy. Congress must set aside its differences and take decisive action to protect the Dreamers once and for all.