Almost 800,000 young people – full of energy and creativity – have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since it began in 2012. However, in the wake of the President’s rescission of DACA, every day that passes means that more Dreamers are losing their ability to work and protection from removal. Congress needs to step in – protecting Dreamers is a win for all of us.

Protecting these kids who have built their lives here and are a vibrant part of the fabric of our communities is not only the just and moral thing to do, it is a win economically. Dreamers contribute to our shared prosperity, at both the national level and the local level. According to data from the Center for American Progress, if Dreamers are given a path to legal status and eventual citizenship, we’ll see a cumulative increase in national GDP over 10 years of $281 billion. A predicted “education bump” by Dreamers completing the educational requirements to qualify to remain in the U.S. could push this benefit as high as $728.4 billion over a decade. On a per capita basis, passing the Dream Act is calculated to raise the average incomes of all Americans as much as $273 annually.

As reported in the Idaho Statesman, Idaho had at least 3,132 DACA recipients as of March 2017, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A survey by the Center for American Progress, National Immigration Law Center and others estimated 2,700 of them were employed. CAR, a progressive think tank, believes losing those DACA workers could cost Idaho’s economy about $159.5 million annually.

We also rank number one in the percentages of undocumented immigrants who would qualify for DACA – more than 60% according to Pew Research.

The requirements to receive DACA are stringent: the Dream Act provides protection from deportation and permanent legal status only for Dreamers who undergo lengthy, rigorous national security and criminal background checks. Applicants would also have to pay an application fee, and demonstrate that they meet certain higher education, military service or employment requirements.

Luckily most of Idaho’s Congressional representatives agree with helping Dreamers find a legal pathway to stay. But, Congress must act soon and pass the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill to protect Dreamers before the holidays.

Below are the words of our representatives in September. Let’s hold them to their words and urge them to act NOW!

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo: “The appropriate treatment of children brought to the United States illegally at a young age is one of the key issues we must deal with in immigration reform legislation. However, the DACA program was created unconstitutionally without the public accountability and deliberation provided by an act of Congress. There is urgent need for Congress to enact rational, comprehensive immigration policy. To ensure widespread confidence and long-term sustainability, reforms must be done through a public process that includes the American people, Congress, and the Administration. Today’s announcement by the Administration returns the decision-making for immigration policy, including the DACA program, to the people’s representatives in Congress for action.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch: “President Obama’s creation of the DACA program was a unilateral attempt by the president to create a law directly contrary to existing law. Of course, a president can’t unilaterally create laws and the federal government is about to be sued by the States to halt the program. There’s no question that our immigration laws need to be addressed, including the issue of children being brought to the U.S. illegally, but those reforms must go through the appropriate legislative process.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson: “While I did not agree with the previous Administration’s overreach when developing the DACA program, I also believe we need to be realistic about how we treat these individuals that were unknowingly brought into this country. This issue, along with many others in our immigration system, needs to be addressed with a permanent legislative solution. I look forward to working with the my colleagues and the Administration to find a comprehensive solution for this situation, which should also include strong measures to secure our borders, an overhaul of our guest worker programs and address the issue of legal status for those who are working and living in our local communities.”

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