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Two New Dreamer Op-Eds and Largest-Ever Survey of DACA Recipients Remind Us that DACA Program Works for America

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Two powerful new opinion pieces from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, excerpted below, underscore the key finding of a new survey of DACA recipients issued today: that the DACA program works and benefits both its recipients and America as a whole.

Juan Escalante, America’s Voice Education Fund’s digital campaigns manager and a DACA recipient, pens a new Medium piece, “An Open Letter to Trump About DACA, from a Dreamer.” Key excerpts include:

Dear President Trump, My name is Juan Escalante. I am a long time Florida resident, the oldest of three brothers, and a two-time graduate of Florida State University. I am also an undocumented immigrant who considers myself American in all ways but one — on paper.

…The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which was announced by President Obama in 2012, provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants with the opportunity to live free from the fear of deportation. It also gave to them a sense of freedom, thanks to the work permits and driver’s licenses it led to.

That freedom that young undocumented immigrants have enjoyed for the past five years has yielded significant gains for the United States. Thanks to DACA young immigrants have been able to pursue higher education, have started their own business, while others continue to work and contribute back to their communities. All of these young people are aspiring Americans, who are working day and night to ensure that they make use of their temporary deportation protection to give back to, not take from, the country they call home.

…Mr. President, just as your parents wanted you to succeed, and just as you want your children to succeed, my parents took a great risk for my future. It’s what families do. My family and I do not have a pathway towards citizenship, not today, tomorrow, or ever. That is why DACA is so important.

Right now, DACA beneficiaries, often known as Dreamers, enrich this country with their talents, culture, and determination. All they want is for you to allow them to work and study without using them as targets for deportation or prey for the white supremacists who wish to see them sent back to a country that they do not know.

Washington Post op-ed from George Mason University student and DACA recipient Cristian Bardales, “I am a ‘dreamer.’ I cannot rest easy,” includes the following powerful excerpts:

My parents left their homeland, my homeland, with nothing but the clothes they carried, determined to prosper in this land of liberty. And now this is my home. Virginia is my state. Sterling Park my neighborhood. George Mason my university. The United States, the land that I love.

I am a “dreamer.” I am living, walking, talking, prosperous proof that my parents’ sacrifices and hard work are paying off. I am Generation 1.5, both a child of immigrants and an immigrant myself.

…Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, we children of immigrants could obtain work permits and a Social Security number. Without DACA, I would have been consigned to the shadows, like so many before me, limited in what opportunities I could pursue. But now I can thrive just as the citizens of this country can thrive, though I am still not one of them. I can obtain a license to legally drive a car. I can be legally employed. I could also apply to colleges and get quoted in-state tuition, making a once near-impossible goal a bit more attainable.

I am thankful, but I cannot rest easy. I can’t get financial aid for school, reserved only for citizens, and I can’t leave the United States because I won’t be allowed back in. This makes one of my dreams — to travel the world, to see family in Guatemala — not feasible as of now. And I can’t escape the reality that some are pushing the Trump administration to end what the Obama administration started.

…I am thankful, yes. I am the son of two honest and hard-working immigrant parents from Guatemala. I am a dreamer 1.5. But I am also a whole lot more than that.

Meanwhile the largest-ever survey of DACA recipients finds that “DACA has been unreservedly good for the U.S. economy and U.S. society more generally.” new survey of more than 3,000 DACA recipients from 46 states and DC, issued by Dr. Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream (UWD); the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); and the Center for American Progress, concludes: “Our findings could not paint a clearer picture: DACA has been unreservedly good for the U.S. economy and for U.S. society more generally.” Among the key findings from the survey of DACA recipients and the larger report:

  • 97% of DACA recipients are currently employed or enrolled in school.
  • Average hourly wages rose by 69% after DACA— that means more tax revenue for cities, states, and the U.S.
  • 16% of DACA recipients bought houses; 5% started businesses
  • At least 72% of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DACA beneficiaries
  • DACA beneficiaries will contribute $460.3 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade—economic growth that would be lost were DACA to be eliminated.