BY JOHN R. DURSO
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has protected hundreds of thousands of young adults who were brought to the United States by their parents as children. Due to their age when they immigrated, they cannot and should not be held accountable for violating any laws. When DACA was passed in 2012, these young men and women were given the opportunity to get driver’s licenses, attend school, obtain good jobs and purchase their first homes. Through this program, these young men and women have gained the confidence to chase the American Dream, a dream that all of our ancestors had when they arrived in the United States.
DREAMers have worked tirelessly to better their lives and the lives of their families, and there is no justifiable reason why they should be punished for a decision that was made when they were infants or young children. If DACA is taken away from these recipients, they will live in constant fear of deportation to a country that is not theirs. America is the only country they have ever known. They may have no recollection of their place of birth and, for many, English is their first and only language.
Threatening to remove 800,000 people from the workforce and out of the country that they have called home since they were children is a threat to the integrity of our country and all that it stands for. DREAMers have been raised here in the United States and grown to be successful and productive members of their communities. They do not have criminal records, attend college and have fought bravely in our military. DREAMers have been raised as proud Americans, just like you and me.
Ending DACA would also have a devastating impact on our national and local economies. DREAMers are, in fact, taxpayers, many of whom own homes with mortgages—and some of whom even work for prestigious Fortune 500 companies. We will lose billions of dollars without their contributions to our economy. Employers will also lose a very important asset—their skilled and hard-working employees.
These are just a few of the reasons why we must not simply fight back against the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA, but rather fight for legislation that will protect the DREAMers and put these hardworking men and women on a path to citizenship through the DREAM Act. This legislation would grant permanent legal status to these young adults who were brought here as undocumented immigrant children, as long as they meet certain requirements.
These young men and women should not have to live in fear of a decision that could tear apart their lives and families at any moment. We must show our unity in support of the DREAM Act to preserve the American Dream for all, to be that shining light on the hill and to continue to be the land of not only the free and the brave, but also of compassion and hope.
John R. Durso is the president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and the Long Island Federation of Labor.