California Businesses Push for 2017 Immigration Fix in Congress, But Hopes Fade

WASHINGTON – With prospects dimming for a deal this year to prevent young undocumented immigrants from deportation, California business leaders and other sympathetic groups are planning a massive push over the next few weeks to force the issue to the top of Washington’s agenda.

Activists see their December bid as their last, best shot to save some 800,000 immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” who are participating in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. DACA has enabled those young people – more than a quarter of whom live in California – to gain temporary legal status and protection from deportation. That protected status expires March 5, 2018, putting their worker permits in jeopardy and making them vulnerable to deportation.

In California, the impact on the economy would be significant. Business groups estimate the state has 188,000 DACA workers. “Our employers are worried about what happens if we no longer have the DACA protection,” Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Toebben said last week on a call with other California business leaders. “They’ve hired these young people and they want to keep them as part of the workforce.”

The multiple initiatives to save the immigrants starts this week, when caravans of workers will start arriving in Washington. Activists are planning rallies in front of the White House, sit-ins on Capitol Hill and other possible acts of civil disobedience.

The business community will set up a “war room” inside the Capitol where Republican and Democratic supporters can conduct satellite interviews with national and local press.

The room will include video monitors of interactive maps with data from all 435 congressional districts and live feeds to coordinated rallies in dozens of major cities across the country, including Sacramento.

The group also plans to launch a series of national digital ads to draw attention to the effort to support DACA workers.

By Franco Ordonez for THE SACRAMENTO BEE
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