On November 12, 2019, business and civic leaders in Maine spoke out at a press event to urge Congress to act to provide a path to permanent residency for those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), On that date, the legality of the administration’s rescission of the DACA program was argued in the Supreme Court. DACA continues now only as a result of lower federal court orders blocking the program’s rescission.
Over 700,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, including about 200 here in Maine, are part of our nation’s communities and economy. Many have no memory of living in any other country. As MeBIC Board member David Barber of Barber Foods/Tyson Foods said, “They’re full members of the communities in every sense. And the only thing they lack is permanent immigration status that will assure their futures here.”
Participating in the event were MeBIC partners CEI and Penobscot Community Health Care, as well as allies including Hospitality Maine, Scholars Strategy Network- University of Maine chapter, the Maine MultiCultural Center, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.
DACA holders’ fates are in limbo, awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision. They don’t know if they will be able to retain their legal protections and work permits, their ability to study, work, and to support themselves. Similarly, their employers do not know if they will soon lose valued employees should the Supreme Court uphold the rescission of the DACA program. The economic impact if DACA holders lose their status will cost the country dearly, in lost GDP, lost taxes, and in turnover costs for employers.
The House of Representatives has already passed the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide a path to permanent residency for DACA holders/Dreamers. It’s time for the Senate to pass, by a veto proof majority, a similar bill. Doing so is the right thing to do for these individuals, and for the U.S. economy.