Deyanira Garcia, a student organizer with Aliento, has lived in the U.S. for 19 of her 20 years. Her sister is a citizen, but she says that doesn’t let her rest because she also must worry about her family. (Photo by Miranda Cyr/Cronkite News)
Kate Gallego: Dreamers deserve protection
Since America’s founding, we have served as a safe harbor for countless generations of immigrants, offering the ability to work hard and pursue the American Dream. As a city, Phoenix encapsulates this tradition. Our community has enjoyed contributions from generations of immigrants as business owners, educators, and civic leaders. In recent years, Phoenix has also served as a home to thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients. In fact, with 21,420 DACA recipients calling Phoenix home, we rank seventh in the nation for largest DACA population. These individuals are working hard and pursuing their dreams.
However, decisions at the federal level have jeopardized the future of our Dreamers. Over two years ago, the Trump administration rescinded the DACA program, despite the benefits the program and all that its recipients have brought our city and nation.
Since that decision, Dreamers have been caught in a seemingly endless game of legal limbo. Court injunctions have temporarily allowed protections to remain in place, but the future is uncertain. On November 12th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the legality of the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the program.
Our city and our nation are stronger when we embrace our diversity. We are also more economically robust. If DACA workers in Arizona were removed, it would cost our state over $1.3 billion in annual GDP. We would also lose their contribution to federal, state, and local taxes.
Dreamers are our students, teachers, neighbors, friends, and family. They are fellow Arizonans and fellow Americans.
Phoenix remains committed to our Dreamers which is why we, along with 108 other cities, counties, and organizations, signed onto an amicus brief supporting our nation’s DACA recipients and objecting to the elimination of the program.
While we will do everything in our power here in Phoenix to protect our neighbors, ultimately permanent protections can only come from Washington. Instead of leaving DACA recipients in limbo at the mercy of the courts, Congress must pass a legislative solution.
Nearly nine in 10 Americans support protecting Dreamers. To abandon our DACA recipients now, in spite of who they are and everything they contribute, is to abandon so much of what has made our city, our state, and our country what it is.
Kate Gallego is the mayor of Phoenix.