The op-ed below was recently sent to me and I thought I'd share it. It is especially noteworthy with DACA and immigration in the news. I urge you to give it a read.
By MIRIAM AMADO
In May I will graduate from the University of Mount Olive. Like most soon-to-be graduates, I am looking forward to graduation with mixed emotions; pride in this accomplishment — I am the first member of my family to attend college — but anxiety about what the future holds.
After graduation, I plan to work in the health care field. My dream is to pursue an advanced degree in public health, where I can acquire the skills to help the under-served in my community. But my biggest worry is not finding a job, or about how much money I will make. It is whether I will be legally allowed to remain in the United States.
I was brought to the United States when I was just 2 years old. And since then, this country has been the only home I’ve known. In 2012, I was granted a temporary reprieve from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA allowed hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented people like me — commonly known as Dreamers — to get driver’s licenses and work permits. Through this program, Dreamers like myself have been able to contribute to both our local communities and the economy.
As Congress returns to work, it must pass a spending bill by January 19 to avoid a government shutdown. If a legislative solution for Dreamers is not paired with that new spending bill — a bill funding enforcement agencies like ICE — then Congress will be effectively funding deportation of Dreamers. That means North Carolina’s more than 27,000 Dreamers — including myself — could lose our jobs and be forced to live in constant fear of being sent back to countries we do not know or barely remember. The costs of inaction — both moral and economic — would be enormous.
DACA recipients are contributing to every sector of our economy, and their deportation would result in an annual GDP loss of $1.2 billion, in addition to $29 million in lost local and state tax revenue. The failure to pass legislation to protect Dreamers would be an economic disaster for North Carolina and the country, and Congress cannot allow that to happen.
There are multiple bills currently in the House and Senate which would provide a much-needed legislative solution for Dreamers. We need a bill that will establish a merit-based process to allow Dreamers who are in college, employed, or serving in our military to earn a pathway to citizenship. This legislation would allow millions of hardworking young people to continue contributing to the country where they grew up, creating American jobs and adding billions to the U.S. economy along the way.
Despite Congress’ inaction, support for a legislative solution for Dreamers is widespread amongst American voters. According to Fox News, nearly 90 percent of Americans — including 80 percent of Republicans — want Congress to pass legislation that creates an earned pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. The American people want to see a solution, and Congress is running out of time to deliver.
The United States is the only home I’ve ever known, and I hope Congress passes legislation that will allow me to one day earn the status of citizenship. Time is running out, and I’m calling on members of the North Carolina delegation to stand up for Dreamers and work to find a longterm legislative solution before the end of the year. We only wish for the chance to stay in this great country and continue the pursuit of the American Dream.