Letters to the Editor

Helping DREAMers helps this nation prosper

The future of 800,000 young immigrants, brought to the United States as children, is tied up in Washington’s budget battle.

This fight is for the White House, Congress and the courts, right? Not if you’re a Miami-Dade County Public Schools teacher. DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — is an issue that hits close to home and the classroom.

As a public school teacher in Miami-Dade, I’m thinking about 12,000 students in the system who are waiting in limbo. If Congress and the president don’t find a fix, these DREAMers are at risk of deportation. They can be torn from their families at any moment.

As a daughter of Honduran immigrants, born and raised in Miami, I’ve lived the American dream. A college education. A master’s degree. A wonderful career as a school teacher and union advocate.

I cannot remain silent or turn a blind eye when politicians use nightmarish language and leave vulnerable young people from Miami-Dade and elsewhere in legal limbo, including 20,000 U.S. teachers who fall under DACA. That’s why I was among 200 people from all backgrounds, including many educators, who were arrested on the Capitol steps last month.

We want the DREAM Act to become law because it’s the right thing to do for immigrant families and children.

With legal protections in place, today’s immigrants, like generations before them, will enhance their skills and education. That means a more productive workforce across the nation and a boost to Florida’s economy where 74,000 residents are approved for DACA status. For our state, passing DACA means an annual gain of between $1.2 billion and $4.1 billion, according to the Center for American Progress.

Economic gains are always a plus. But you know what’s really a plus? Welcoming a new generation of Americans — that’s what makes America truly great.

Karla Hernandez-Mats, president, United Teachers of Dade, Miami