It’s Time for Congress to Prioritize our Future Workforce
SACRAMENTO, CA – The Metro Chamber encourages Congress to take prompt action specific to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) youth, which offers assurances to their remaining in this country and creates a specific path and process to citizenship without threat of deportation. Undocumented immigrants meeting the following criteria should be protected from deportation, offered a legal work permit, a path to permanent residence, and ultimately U.S. citizenship:
- Are longtime residents brought to the country as children;
- Graduate from high school or obtain a GED;
- Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or honorably serve in the military;
- Pass security and law enforcement background checks;
- Pay a reasonable application fee;
- Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
- Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.
“Dreamers in the Capital Region are a critical part of our workforce and our community, as our employees, co-workers, and in some cases, members of our nation’s military, they deserve to be given the certainty that we have talked about for years,” said Sacramento Metro Chamber President & CEO. Peter Tateishi. “While we do need comprehensive immigration reform, it needs to be done one step at a time, and we need to take this next step now to reaffirm the commitments made and ensure stability in our workforce and economy. The time is now.”
The DACA program offers a pathway to productivity and prosperity for those who were brought to this country as children, requiring them to either complete their education or honorably serve in our military. Satisfying those requirements provides individuals (Dreamers) with a legal work permit and a greatly reduced threat of deportation to a country with which they have no connection. Many Dreamers came to America as toddlers; this is the only country where they have developed the skills and language competencies to contribute to society.
To reverse course now and deport these individuals is a step in the wrong direction on the commitments we have made and will have significant economic impacts on our country. Of the 800,000 individuals enrolled in the DACA program, approximately 220,000 reside in California. Our local universities and schools collectively have and continue to enroll thousands of these Dreamers. If given the opportunity, these students are ready to positively impact our workforce, economy, and communities for the remainder of their lives. Moreover, Dreamers who are already in the workplace are productive, have tax paying jobs, and represent a critical part of our regional and statewide workforce that our employers simply cannot afford to lose.
It’s time for Congress to make this a priority and put our future workforce first.