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DACA recipients deserve certainty

September 30, 2018

Working in banking, I operate in a world where careful planning, diligence and certainty are essential and where, for everyday savers and consumers, these traits can lead to financial success.

The lack of certainty in the DACA program, however, creates chaos and confusion for both employers and DACA recipients. It pains me to see what’s happening to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Since Sept. 5, 2017, when the Trump administration announced its plan to end DACA, these young people have been in danger of losing their legal status. The threat of deportation has been hanging over their heads with each hour they clock at work and each dime they pay to local, state and federal governments hungry for their tax revenues.

The president asked federal lawmakers to step in by March 5, but that deadline came and went without a bill to provide DACA recipients with the opportunity to pursue citizenship or legal permanent residency.

We’re still waiting. Over the past year, DACA recipients have had to rely on the courts to keep the program running. Thankfully, now four judges have sided with these young people and the program, but no one deserves to live court case to court case, injunction to injunction, or in two-year increments. That’s especially true if you’re contributing to the national economy and your local community, as these young people are.

Last year the Center for American Progress surveyed DACA recipients, and this research clearly shows that these individuals are economic multipliers. More than 90 percent are working — as a condition of DACA, an individual must be employed or enrolled in school or the military. A lot of these young people had jobs before DACA, but obtaining temporary status improved their job situations. Nearly 70 percent said that after entering the DACA program, they moved to a job with better pay. More than half said they moved to a job that better fit their education and training or long-term career plans.

Even the two-year reprieve that DACA recipients got from the program helped them better achieve their goals.

Here’s another interesting fact from the study: Of DACA recipients aged 25 and older, almost 10 percent started their own businesses after entering the program. Even in their mid-20s and early 30s, these young people have displayed the entrepreneurial spirit that this country is known for and that makes us a dominant force in the world economy.

Today, DACA recipients are achieving all of this in the face of crippling uncertainty. Today, there are more baby boomers leaving the workforce through retirement than there are younger Americans entering the workforce.

Richard Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, cites this demographic shift as the one thing that can slow our economic success — a lack of workers. Imagine what they’d be capable of if we welcomed them permanently into our society, allowing them to achieve their potential while our economy achieves its potential.

These hard workers have earned the chance to apply for permanent status with a path to citizenship. They deserve stability and certainty. The fundamental questions of whether they will maintain their work authorizations — and, more critically, protections from deportation — dictate whether these young people can plan their futures, stay at their jobs and create new ones, and grow their families and our economy.

Voters desperately want to give the young people a chance to continue their lives here. Every poll since last September consistently shows overwhelming support for DACA recipients. Most surveys show that roughly 9 in 10 Americans want federal lawmakers to replace DACA with a path to citizenship.

Time is running out. Congress needs to send a bill to the president’s desk.

Eddie Aldrete is a senior vice president with IBC Bank and serves as the chairman of the board of the National Immigration Forum.

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