Coalition Fighting for ‘Dreamers,’ Immigration Reform

Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, instituted in 2012 under President Obama, have come under fire recently both at the state and national level.

In late June, attorneys general from 10 states except Arizona threatened to sue the Trump administration over a program that grants deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly 800,000 U.S. Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age who have passed a comprehensive background check and met multiple criteria.

Removal of Arizona’s more than 27,000 DACA recipients would lead to an annual gross domestic product loss of $1.3 billion. Many Dreamers who were brought here in their youth are now students, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, agricultural and construction workers. In other words, they are our neighbors.

They are hard-working individuals like 21-year-old Phoenix resident Maria Gonzalez, who spoke earlier this summer at a launch event for the FWD.us Arizona Coalition comprised of Arizona business leaders, community leaders and immigration reform advocates. She was brought to the U.S. as a toddler and knows no other country. Despite both her parents being detained by immigration officials during her senior year of high school — her father was actually deported — she was able to graduate and go on to attend South Mountain Community College while working to support herself. She hopes to transfer to Arizona State University and earn a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Like hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients across the country, Gonzalez faces significant insecurity about her legal status today in the face of aggressive immigration policies being pursued at federal and state levels. The FWD.us Arizona Coalition is working to bring attention to immigration reform efforts affecting Gonzalez and others like her. It is part of FWD.us, a bipartisan group working to mobilize the tech community and other national leaders in business and civic engagement who are interested in promoting immigration and economic policies that keep the U.S. competitive in an increasingly globalized world.

By Steven Zylstra for Arizona Capitol Times
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