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End the DACA Roller Coaster

Dreamers deserve more certainty than the political roller coaster over the past several years has provided them.

Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have seen their hopes for eventual citizenship rise and fall amid a backdrop of court orders, executive actions and failed attempts at congressional legislation.

Most recently, the Supreme Court ruled that how the Trump administration attempted to wind down DACA was not constitutional. But Dreamers still urgently need congressional action to ensure a permanent solution and to end their ups and downs.

Since 2012, DACA has provided temporary protection from deportation, but no permanence, to young people brought to the U.S. as children. It impacts some 640,000 Dreamers, all of whom have lived here since at least 2007 and arrived in this country before the age of 16. Many don’t remember ever calling another nation home.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates that about 3,500 DACA recipients live in the Kansas City area, with a total of more than 8,500 DACA recipients spread across Missouri and Kansas. The consequences of positive legislation to protect these Dreamers will be life-changing to the people affected and their families— and better for America writ large.

DACA enjoys the support of much of the American public, including, in one recent poll, 69% of people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And yet, because it was created through an administrative action and not a law, it remains subject to the whims of any president, for better or for worse. And while the president has on occasion vowed his support for Dreamers, he continually tries to kill the program, and has indicated he will try do so again.

A congressional fix — a revisit of the Dream Act, whether it’s a standalone bill or part of a larger immigration reform bill — makes sense from both an economic and moral standpoint. It’s been estimated that over the next 10 years, current DACA recipients will contribute an estimated $433 billion to our nation’s GDP and $12.3 billion in taxes to Social Security and Medicare. Deporting all DACA recipients would cost the federal government $60 billion along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

From a moral standpoint, defending Dreamers means upholding shared values of compassion, justice and family. Deporting them would mean separating families who’ve been living together here in America for years.

Dreamers are American in every way except for legal paperwork. They serve in our military. They are teachers, lawyers and doctors: some 29,000 work as frontline medical professionals combating COVID-19. In short, they are our neighbors, and we should love and welcome them.

Much needs to be done to fix our broken immigration system, but finding a permanent solution for DACA recipients and other Dreamers and ending the roller coaster ride of the past two decades is a no-brainer.

Roger McCrummen is the managing partner of the McCrummen Immigration Law Group in Kansas City, Missouri.

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