Dreamers Important to Colorado’s Vibrant Communities and Economy
For more than seven years, thousands of young Coloradoans have benefited from a wildly successful federal program that has allowed them to attend school and legally work. This program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, has not only benefited the recipients of the program but the entire state of Colorado through the economic and social contributions that come with it.
Economic and social efforts are vital to our community, along with a continued focus on environmental sustainability. Together, a focus on economic, social, and environmental factors will help us thrive moving forward.
The DACA program protects young Coloradan immigrants who came to this country with their families as children. It has allowed hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across the country, including nearly 15,000 here in Colorado, to create lives for themselves here without fear of separation from their families, jobs and communities. Dreamers in Colorado also annually pay nearly $60 million in state and local taxes and their removal would result in an annual loss of over $850 million from our GDP.
Unfortunately, due to congressional inaction, these benefits and all that DACA recipients, or Dreamers, have worked for and contributed could be at risk if Congress doesn’t act soon.
In 2017, the Trump Administration terminated the DACA program. Since then, numerous lawsuits have allowed DACA program protections to temporarily remain, but the Supreme Court, which is currently reviewing the legality of the program’s rescission, is expected to issue a ruling on the program that has the potential to halt deportation protections for these young Americans early this year.
Even worse, contrary to previous opinion, Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence recently said ICE would deport Dreamers if their protections end, an assumption Chief Justice Roberts was not operating under when he heard oral arguments surrounding the program last fall.
With the threat of deportation looming, the stakes Dreamers are facing are high. That is why it is incredibly important for DACA recipients to ensure they renew their protections before it is too late.
It’s also important to note that the overwhelming majority of Americans support permanent protections for Dreamers and members of both parties, including Colorado’s own Senators Bennet and Gardner, have promised to protect Dreamers. But despite the promises of our elected officials, a legislative solution has not been reached. Dreamers desperately need Congress to work together to finally provide them with permanent protections. The House passed the American Dream and Promise Act that would do just this in a bipartisan manner last summer. The Senate needs to follow suit.
I urge Senators Bennet and Gardner to work in a bipartisan manner to permanently protect Dreamers. It is high time that they keep their promises and protect the thousands of Dreamers in our communities.
Colorado is known for its immigrant inclusivity and vibrant economy – let’s keep it that way in order for our state and our communities to reach their full potential.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com