For an entire generation, we have heard story after story on the many broken areas of our immigration system. From the flawed security process to a shortage of visas to backlogs of citizen requests, the reasons for reform are long.
While we can all agree that the system needs fixing, the reality is that modernization will take some time. Although comprehensive reform won’t happen overnight, it would be a mistake to shy away from the issue at hand, one that becomes more dire as each second tacks on. How do we forge a path forward for the immigrants who were brought to this country through no fault of their own, yet who now face a future more uncertain than any we will most likely experience?
Of course, we’re talking about the future of DREAMers. For some, this might not hit home right away. While important, how could their future be tied to ours?
But the future of DREAMers sets a precedent for us all. It sets a precedent for the many immigrants whose contributions have been hindered by an outdated system. And lastly, it sets a precedent for how we shape the future makeup of our economy. At the end of the day, the moral and economic reasons are far too great for Congress to take a back seat on this issue.
Now is the time to tell their stories, and speak to the many reasons why finding a solution for DREAMers is so vital to our economy. Regardless of whether you know them directly, their future impacts your own. It’s time for Congress to find common ground.
Thankfully there is a broad consensus on protecting those who came to this country at a young age. But what about the economic factors? The direct impact of DREAMers in the economy is not always taken into consideration. But one look at their economic contributions reveals that they embody the American dream just as strong as any fellow American.
Here in the Sunshine State, we feel the benefits of DREAMers more than most. According to research done by New American Economy, there are over 106,000 DACA-eligible Floridians. If Congress cannot reach a deal, then consider the alternative – that’s the equivalent of taking out 106,00 people out of the economy.
Whether they are entrepreneurs, teachers, medical professionals, members of the military and more – DREAMers are looking for the same opportunities and challenges we all are. Their ambitions lead to greater success as we inherit more businesses and more talent, which is all the more important in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
In terms of sheer numbers, Florida’s DACA-eligible population earns almost $1.4 billion in total income every year. Around $120 million of that goes toward local revenue. Many DREAMers already pay taxes, so why would anyone want to stop that growth? They willingly want to play a part in our economic story, and we should embrace that spirit.
You may already understand the importance of a DACA solution for a number of reasons. But if you haven’t yet – we encourage you to challenge yourself on the economic factors and what it means for our local communities.
Let us all meet at the table without reservation to support DREAMers in the economy, and just maybe Congress might do the same.
Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Marucci Guzmán is executive director of Latino Leadership.