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DACA Continues to Change Lives, No Thanks to Senator Rubio

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The GOP’s Plan to End DACA Continues to Hurt Florida’s Economy

This week marks the four-year anniversary of the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers, a landmark action that has changed the lives of more than 49, 000 Floridians.

“DACA gave me invaluable benefits: to be able to get a driver’s license; find jobs that don’t take advantage of my undocumented status with their low wages; and pay in-state tuition for my education,” said Colombian-born Miami-Dade resident Maria Angelica Ramirez. “DACA allows me to walk in peace, without fear of being deported at any moment, which is priceless.

“DACA has literally been the difference between living on the streets and having a roof over my head,” Michelle, a Trinidad native and Broward county resident, explained. “I have been able to get a job and help support my family, all because of my temporary legal status.”

Michelle hopes to save enough money to go to school and help other undocumented youth find secure housing. “There are hundreds of talented undocumented people who are homeless or close to homeless,” said Michelle. “All they need is safe place off the streets and an opportunity to shine.”

Opposition from Republicans not only harms Floridians, but also limits the full economic benefits that these executive actions would bring to the Sunshine state. According to a 2015 study by the Center for American Progress, 38 percent of Florida’s total undocumented population (229,000 people) are eligible for President Barack Obama’s original DACA program, the proposed DAPA program, or the proposed DACA expansion. Even temporary legalization of their status would spur a cumulative state GDP increase of $6.1 billion dollars and provide a 4.1 billion cumulative increase in the incomes of all state residents.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump and many down-ballot Republicans continue to oppose DACA, DAPA, expanded DACA, and copmrehensive immigration reform. The anti-immigrant agenda of Trump and the GOP is clear and unforgettable.  The GOP nominee has promised to round up 11 million immigrantsban all Muslims from admission into the U.S.; revoke birthright citizenship from 4.5 million “anchor babies;”roundup Syrian refugees already resettled;  and rescind protections for 700,000 Dreamers on his first day as President.

While presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to end DACA on day one, his fellow Republicans down-ballot have also lined up in opposition to DACA. Florida’s junior Senator Marco Rubio voted multiple times to end the DACA program, and he opposes DAPA, the policy that offers a modest step of protecting the parents of U.S. citizen children from being deported. During his failed campaign for President, Sen. Rubio stated that he would even end DACA, if elected.

That is why, as Florida State university graduate and a DACA recipient Juan Escalante explains, it is vital that voters remember the anti-immigrant stances of down-ballot candidates come November. “These are the battles undocumented immigrants are currently fighting four years later after the implementation of DACA,” Escalante writes. “There is so much at risk, and we simply cannot let Republicans undo all of our progress on immigration.”

“No thanks to Senator Rubio, DACA continues to change the lives of Floridians. He argues that one of a Senator’s highest priorities must be to support his or her constituents. And yet, he continues to block DACA and other executive orders on immigration, hurting Floridians and amplifying his party’s anti-immigrant agenda,” said Florida’s Voice State Director Elbert Garcia. “These undocumented Floridians are hard working, contributing members of our community, and they deserve Rubio’s support. Senator Rubio must stop prioritizing his political future and the GOP over Florida and the country’s need for comprehensive immigration reform.”