To the Editor:
This Labor Day, it seems ironic that the Trump Administration is poised to deny approximately 800,000 people the right to work in the U.S. These are the so-called “Dreamers” — young people in their teens and twenties who have lived in the U.S., attended our schools, assimilated into American culture and often speak English more fluently than the language of their birth. They are woven inextricably into the fabric of American life and they want to contribute positively to the future of the United States. In all respects they are American – except that they were brought here as children by their parents – a decision they, themselves, did not make.
President Trump, at one point, promised to show “great heart” when dealing with Dreamers. Where is his heart now? Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is on the chopping block, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. Dreamers with DACA status have been vetted through background checks, are in school or completed high school and have been allowed to remain in the U.S., temporarily, to continue their schooling at a higher level, to work or both.
In District 7 and all over New Jersey, thousands of Dreamers are your children’s friends; your nurses and lab techs; your soon-to-be doctors; your church leaders; your neighbors. Instead of showing these people “great heart,” however, President Trump is showing them the door if he lets their work permits expire or cancels their existing status immediately, despite support for DACA from 8 out of 10 voters, business and religious leaders, and nearly three-quarters of Trump voters. Over 1,800 politicians, clergy, business people, police chiefs and other community leaders recently sent a letter to Mr. Trump asking him to keep Dreamers protected.
Representative Leonard Lance has so far refused to publicly protect these young people in his district and across the U.S. Cutting DACA would be horrific, not just for recipients and their families, but also for American businesses and communities. American workers at DACA-founded businesses will lose their jobs. Social Security, Medicare and universities will lose billions in contributions and tuition. A recent study published by the Center for American Progress estimates that ending DACA would cost New Jersey approximately $1.6 billion. Keep in mind that this group of individuals pays taxes, contributes to our society and quite often serves in our Armed Forces.
Ending DACA and shattering the lives of hundreds of thousands, while ripping apart families, is further proof that President Trump sides against the moral and economic interests of our country and takes every opportunity to decimate minorities’ rights to live and work on a level playing field. Major studies show that DACA has been a resounding success and is supported by a great majority of US citizens. Without DACA, over 800,000 Dreamers will be subject to deportation to countries they may not even remember. They will no longer be able to work legally to support themselves and their families and will very likely be subject to deportation. How does that help our economy?
There is bipartisan consensus to allow the Dreamers to remain in this country. If Mr. Trump rescinds DACA, it is up to Congress to protect these young people by passing legislation that would allow them to remain, work, go to school, and live safely in the only country they know as home.
We are calling on Congress, specifically Rep. Leonard Lance, to co-sponsor HR 3440 (the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017) or other legislation immediately to protect Dreamers and make our country stronger, not weaker: to exercise moral authority and economic practicality where the President has not.
Westfield 20/20 Immigration Subcommittee
Co-chairs: Catherine Picker, Ellen Wolff