Romer: Time to finally protect dreamers
June 15 marks 10 years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy went into effect, changing the lives of over 800,000 young immigrants who came to our country as children with their families. These young Americans have repeatedly shown us the incredible value they add to our country when given the opportunity to work legally and live without the constant fear of deportation.
Since its creation in 2012, DACA has been an enormous success and has given hundreds of thousands of immigrants protected status from deportation and work authorization, which has allowed them to advance in their careers, grow their families and build prosperous lives here. Even as these immigrants have grown up, they continue every day to follow their American dreams while making our nation the successful and vibrant place that it is today.
After 10 years of DACA, this summer marks an incredibly fragile time for the policy as this July, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of DACA. The decision in State of Texas v. USA will determine the fate of the policy, and if it is negative, dreamers will face the specter of another Supreme Court fight next year. Even worse, the Fifth Circuit could potentially rule to immediately bar current DACA recipients from renewing their protections.
The fight to protect dreamers is one I have long been passionate about, most recently highlighting how essential immigrants are to Colorado’s workforce and economic future.
I’ve also spoken out for dreamers during past decisions like those of Texas Judge Andrew Hanen and the Senate parliamentarian. Unfortunately, not much has changed, and the DACA policy is still vulnerable to the whims of unelected judges and intransigent lawmakers.
Support Local Journalism
Today, the stakes are monumentally high for Colorado’s 13,720 DACA recipients and, by extension, for our state’s economy. Each year, our state’s DACA-eligible population pays $101.5 million in annual federal, state and local taxes. As a businessman, I know how important these funds are to our state’s prosperity.
Beyond their economic contributions, dreamers also encompass 21% of Colorado’s undocumented immigrant population, and 83% of them have lived in the U.S. for over 10 years. They are Coloradans in every meaningful way.
The good that has come from the DACA policy has been nothing short of life-changing for these individuals, but more work must be done to guarantee them the security that they need and deserve.
Congress has missed the mark when it comes to providing a permanent legislative solution for dreamers for years, and it is time that lawmakers stop relying on DACA’s existence as a reason to delay action for these individuals. There is no better way to celebrate this anniversary than to work toward passing a permanent legislative solution before DACA again makes its way to the Supreme Court.
A pathway to citizenship has overwhelming bipartisan support, with most Americans supporting legislation that will provide it for DACA recipients. While the House recently passed two pieces of the pathway to citizenship legislation, the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, there has been a disappointing lack of action from the Senate. Legislation like this has the support of the Biden administration, so it is time to finally pass much-needed reforms across the finish line.
While a solution is long overdue, it is never too late for meaningful change. The time is now. I can only hope that Colorado’s elected representatives, including Sens. Michael and John Hickenlooper, will work with their colleagues and act quickly to pass comprehensive immigration reforms that will allow dreamers to thrive without the burden of uncertainty and fear.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.