On September 5, the President of the United States ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is an immoral announcement that puts families at risk and removes hard-working Americans from our country. President Trump made it clear he wants only the best and brightest coming to our country. DACA recipients are the best and brightest, and Congress needs to pass legislation to make sure they can stay.
DACA protects children who were brought undocumented over to America by their parents. Often times they are raised in America, speaking English as a primary language. They attend our schools and play with our children. They are raised in our culture, watch the same TV shows, and contribute millions to our economy. They are us. They are American without the official paper most of us take for granted.
Many DACA recipients, or “DREAMers,” do not know they are undocumented until they apply for work or college. These children do not have a path to citizenship, which means they can be deported to a country where they may not know anyone, may not speak the language, and will have to build their lives over on their own. The DACA program ensures that these DREAMers can stay in their home country if they work hard, pay taxes, and contribute positively to their community.
To be eligible for DACA, recipients must meet stringent criteria. Eligible applicants endure thorough screening every year to check employment status, status of taxes paid, and legal history. In addition, they must prove that they are contributing positively to the community. DREAMers pay $500 every two years to enroll in the program. For those concerned about public safety, DACA recipients cannot have been convicted of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors like DUI, or three misdemeanors of any kind. DREAMers really are the best and brightest.
In Alaska, we are home to more than 130 youth and young adult DACA recipients. These DREAMers contribute to our culture, workplaces, and $8.6 million to our annual GDP. Can we really afford to send hard working people away in our current fiscal climate? DREAMers are people who work with us, go to college with us, and serve in the military to defend our country alongside us. It is incumbent upon all of us to work together to defend DREAMers by organizing to ensure Congress passes legislation to keep DREAMers here. Senator Murkowski has signed on to legislation that would add protections for DREAMers in federal law and we thank her for that work. It is our responsibility to call and email Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Representative Don Young to ensure the legislation is passed in time to keep these Alaskans here at home.