Dreamers in Crisis

As Congress races toward Friday’s deadline to reach a spending agreement and avert a federal government shutdown, a stumbling block is the plight of almost 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the US as children. Democrats are considering voting against a budget bill unless the immigration crisis is addressed.

DACA Deal-breaker: President Trump blew up a bipartisan agreement to renew DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which allows these young people to stay here without fear of deportation. According to a CBS News poll, 70 percent of Americans agree these “Dreamers” should be able to stay in the US, which is usually the only home they’ve known.

American Jobs at Stake: The vast majority of Dreamers are working, studying, or serving in the military. Revoking DACA would remove 700,000 individuals from the workforce, causing a $460.3 billion hit to the GDP over a decade. Turnover alone would cost businesses $3.4 billion and the government would lose out on $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicaid contributions.

The Human Stakes: The human cost of Trump’s broader crackdown on undocumented immigrants was brought home on the Martin Luther King holiday. Jorge Garcia, an undocumented landscaper from a Detroit suburb, was brought here at age 10, and now at 39 is too old for DACA. His wife, Cindy, a retired truck factory worker, and their two teenage children are all U.S. citizens. Ordered to leave by January 15, he hugged his family goodbye at Detroit Metro Airport. As A.J. Freer, vice president of UAW Local 600, said: “For a man who cares deeply and supports his family, obeys the law, pays taxes and has a history of helping others, I think ICE and the federal government of the United States acted cruelly to this family.”