Leaders call for urgent Congressional action to protect hard-working young immigrant Nebraskans
LINCOLN – Today, Nebraska civic, business, and faith leaders joined Nebraska DREAMers at a State Capitol press conference attended by a crowd of approximately 500 people to show broad support and appreciation for young immigrant Nebraskans who have been able to contribute their skills and talents to local communities through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The outpouring of support comes as DREAMers – young immigrant Nebraskans who grew up in our communities – face the urgent threat of DACA ending. This morning the Trump Administration announced it would end DACA after a “wind down” period of six months – March 2018, instantly creating extreme uncertainty for Nebraska families, businesses, and communities.
“The community of Crete is made up of generations of immigrants,” Crete’s Mayor Roger Foster said. “I couldn’t be prouder of our DACA youth and their families for continuing the tradition of contributing to our community. In Nebraska we speak of pride, work ethic and retaining our best and brightest students. In the community of Crete, these families exemplify the values we so cherish as Nebraskans. It’s important to the future we welcome them.”
“When I was younger I was always told that I could never have a career or achieve anything that I wanted, like going to college, finding a job, or getting a driver’s license,” said Atziri Valadez, a Nebraska DACA recipient who has lived in Nebraska since she was 11 months old. “When DACA was introduced in 2012, the things I was told I would never be able to achieve were finally achievable. DACA has given me so many opportunities I am grateful for.”
“It does not matter where I came from. What’s important is how hard I am willing to work to succeed in my future,” said another young Nebraska DACA recipient named Ana.
DREAMers have a long history of contributing to Nebraska’s communities, a fact recognized by business, agriculture, civic, faith, and education leaders across the state. A group of more than 70 such leaders have signed a letter to Nebraska’s Congressional delegation, asking them to put the protections of DACA into federal law to preserve stability and protect opportunity for DREAMers and their families. Nebraska’s universities, additional legislators, and the Nebraska Catholic Conference have signed similar letters.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Nebraska DREAMer youth from all across the state. Their talents, energy, and enthusiasm for local communities are an enormous asset to Nebraska,” said Jim Partington, executive director of Nebraska Restaurant Association. “Together with a Nebraska coalition of civic, business, and community supporters of common-sense immigration laws, I’ve also had the opportunity to hear Nebraska’s appreciation for the contributions of DACA youth – in the Legislature and in communities across the state.”
Ending DACA with no immediate action by Congress would come at an enormous social cost of separating Nebraska families. It also would have severe implications for our state economy. The Center for American Progress estimates Nebraska would lose $144 million each year in economic output if DACA was ended, as part of a national GDP loss of $433 billion over the next 10 years.
Several bills, such as the bipartisan “Dream Act of 2017,” recently have been introduced in Congress that would allow those covered by DACA and other similarly situated to have a way to apply for immigration status, and eventually, be able to earn U.S. citizenship.
Nebraska Appleseed Immigrants & Communities Director Darcy Tromanhauser said it is now imperative for Congress to take immediate action to protect Nebraska DREAMers and their families so they can keep contributing to the state they call home.
“Congress must swiftly pass the bipartisan Dream Act to uphold the unity of Nebraska families and allow us all to benefit from what these young Nebraskans contribute to our state every day,” Tromanhauser said. “We also expect Congress to come together and adopt long-overdue, common-sense immigration laws that reflect our values and keep Dreamer youth and their families together.”
For further interview requests or photos from Tuesday’s event, contact Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at (402) 438-8853, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.