With the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, nearly 800,000 young people brought to the United States as children, commonly called Dreamers, are in jeopardy of losing their protective status to study and work in this country. With unemployment at an all-time low in Colorado, we are deeply concerned that we will lose young people who we have invested time and resources to educate, join our workforce and move our economy forward.
Unfortunately, DACA is caught in the crosshairs of partisan politics. We think it’s critical that Congress act immediately to pass a permanent, bipartisan solution that allows Dreamers to remain in the country to pursue their education and contribute to our economy. Without it, we’re exporting talent and skill fostered in our own education system as we turn away thousands of young people educated in our K-12 system.
More than 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their protections under DACA, leaving them at risk of being deported from their homes instead of having the opportunity to contribute to our labor force and tax base.
In Colorado, there are over 17,000 immigrant youth who, under DACA, have been able to legally work in our many burgeoning industries or gain higher education in our state universities. In fact, DACA recipients in Colorado paid more than $33 million in taxes in just one year. The New American Economy reports that Dreamers earn nearly $20 billion in total income each year and contribute more than $3 billion to federal, state and local taxes. These major contributions have strengthened public institutions across the country while generating economic growth for our cities and towns.
As leading voices for Colorado’s business community, we know that when Coloradans have the opportunity to work, start their own businesses and help generate new ideas, all our communities benefit. Colorado Dreamers are Coloradans — and their entrepreneurial spirit and contributions are essential to our state.
We urge Congress to come together and do the right thing for these young people and America. There are bipartisan solutions today in both chambers that protect Dreamers and border security, such as the Dream Act and the USA Act.
The cost of inaction is too great for Colorado and our nation. Dreamers touch almost every industry of Colorado’s economy — from farming to aerospace engineering — and often pursue higher education to improve their skills and continue contributing to our state.
Seventy-one percent of Coloradans agree and support policy that keeps Dreamers in the U.S. Allowing Dreamers to stay should not be a partisan position. Dreamers are the teachers, nurses and business owners who contribute tirelessly to the economic prosperity of our nation; their contributions forge the American Dream.
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Metro North Chamber of Commerce call on our Congressional delegation to pass bipartisan legislation that will once and for all protect Dreamers. Our Dreamers, and our economy, depend on it.
Gregg Moss is president and CEO of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce. He writes on behalf of his organization as well as the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber.