Many view the start of a new year as an opportunity for a clean slate, a chance to start fresh. However, before Americans and their Congressional representatives look to 2018, one very important issue remains to be resolved: protections for our nation’s nearly 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
As an Arizona State University (ASU) student, a community organizer and a contributing member of my community who is a DACA recipient, I do look forward to the opportunities that 2018 presents. Unfortunately, whether or not I will be able to pursue those opportunities is still in question, and will be until Congress passes a long-term legislative solution for Dreamers like myself.
Knowing no other countries than the one we were raised in, my fellow ASU Dreamers and I have become politically engaged to mobilize other DACA recipients at ASU and beyond. The DACA program has allowed us access to driver’s licenses and work permits. These documents allowed us to emerge into society as real benefactors to our communities. All we ask for now is a permanent legislative solution.
We won’t be the only ones that are negatively affected by Congressional inaction either. While we may have been brought to the United States as children, Dreamers have grown up to become productive and valuable members of society and contributors to our economy. Take Arizona, for example, which is home to nearly 28,000 Dreamers. If Congress fails to act, and Dreamers begin to lose work authorization in March, the state’s economy will see losses of nearly $1.3 billion in annual GDP and $28.1 million in local and state tax revenues. Without a legislative solution, between March 6th and November 6th, 1,700 Dreamers across the country will lose their jobs every single business day. Not only are we fighting for our chance to pursue the American dream, we are fighting to continue contributing to the economy.
Despite Congress’ lack of urgency and action on the issue of protections for Dreamers, a legislative solution is overwhelmingly supported by the American public. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 84 percent of U.S. voters support a long-term legislative solution for Dreamers.
The American people have made themselves heard on this issue, and it’s time for Congress to act before it’s too late. Already, more than 11,000 Dreamers across the U.S. have lost their work permits and deportation protections, placing them at risk of removal. There is no time left to waste for Congress.
Let’s make the right choice. Let’s forget about politics. Let’s do the right thing. Dreamers are American, from the way they dress to the way they talk, and they are integral members of their communities. Throughout its history, this great nation has welcomed its neighbors and allowed hard-working people a chance at the American dream. This decision should be no different. I am calling on Congress to put politics aside and work together to pass and implement a long-term legislative solution for Dreamers before the end of the year.
Edder Diaz Martinez is a senior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and is co-founder of Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE) at ASU.