Florida Needs Congressional Action As DACA Hits Nine-Year Mark; FWD.us Launches New Report

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program turns nine today. While the program has been overwhelmingly successful and provided young immigrants and those that rely on them with immense opportunity, congressional inaction to provide Dreamers with an earned pathway to citizenship threatens their lives and contributions in the U.S. A solution is as urgent as ever, as U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen is expected to issue a ruling any day now that could terminate the DACA program, leaving Dreamers at risk of being separated from their families and deported to countries they may not remember.

Today, while we celebrate the success of the DACA program and the immense contributions of Dreamers, we also call on Congress to enact long-overdue legislation that would provide Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship and the stability they deserve. Below we’ve provided:

  • An updated state of play overview on DACA
  • Details on a newly launched FWD.us Pathway to Citizenship report
  • Statements from FWD.us Florida State Immigration Director Ted Hutchinson and local business and community leaders on today’s anniversary
  • Dreamers who are available to comment on the DACA anniversary

Should you have any questions, would like to connect with any of the DACA recipients listed below, or need additional information, please email Leezia Dhalla at press@fwd.us.

DACA TURNS NINE, MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF SUPREME COURT DECISION TO SAVE THE PROGRAM

This week marks two key moments in the history of immigration:

  1. Today, Tuesday, June 15: the nine-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); and,
  2. Friday, June 18: the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s blockbuster ruling to uphold the program and prevent hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation.

For nearly a decade, DACA has allowed young immigrants to live, study, and work in the U.S. — this occasion deserves celebration. However, June 15th and 18th also come as powerful reminders that lawmakers have yet to pass a pathway to citizenship that would permanently protect these young Americans from being ripped away from their families and deported to countries many haven’t visited since childhood. Even as 60% of DACA recipients — more than 400,000 people nationally and 6,300 in Florida — work essential jobs, their place in America remains uncertain.

DREAMERS ARE ESSENTIAL AND MUST BE PROTECTED

These immigrants, many of whom have been temporarily shielded from deportation by the DACA program, were raised in the United States and know no other home. They are contributing as essential workers, economic multipliers, integral community members, and so much more. Despite this, Dreamers have been living in fear and uncertainty for years due to lack of a permanent legislative solution protecting them from deportation. A pending ruling from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen is expected any day now and could result in the termination of DACA, placing hundreds of thousands of Dreamers at risk of being separated from their families and ripped away from their communities.

Nearly one-third of DACA recipients work in essential industries. Nationwide, more than 20,000 DACA recipients are frontline health care workers like nurses, health aides, and medical assistants. Beyond their contributions as essential workers, DACA-eligible immigrants contribute to the economy and the American workforce as a whole. These immigrants are more likely to have secondary degrees than native-born Americans and already have a higher workforce participation rate.

CONGRESS HAS AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO ACT

The U.S. House has already passed the American Dream and Promise Act with bipartisan support. The Senate’s companion to this legislation, the Dream Act, has bipartisan sponsors and would create a similar pathway to citizenship for America’s Dreamers. Without action in Congress, this anniversary could be the last Dreamers are able to celebrate in their home — the United States.

IMMIGRATION, BUSINESS, AND COMMUNITY LEADERS FROM ACROSS FLORIDA SUPPORT IMMIGRATION REFORM AND A PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP FOR DREAMERS

Ted Hutchinson, FWD.us Florida State Immigration Director: “On the ninth anniversary of DACA, I celebrate the relief and peace of mind this vital program has brought to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants across the country, including nearly 25,000 Dreamers here in Florida. These deportation protections have allowed Dreamers to bravely come out of the shadows, pursue higher education, build careers and contribute their incredible gifts and talents to communities across the Sunshine State. With DACA, Dreamers have grown the economy, enriched our community, and strengthened the fabric of America. They, and their families, make our state stronger. We celebrate the contributions of Dreamers and their families today, but also reflect on the continued fear and uncertainty they face as the DACA program remains under imminent threat. Only a pathway to citizenship can provide the certainty that Dreamers won’t be ripped away from their communities, cruelly separated from their families, and deported from the country they call home. This is deeply immoral and wrong.

“Right now, Congress has an opportunity to stand up for what is just and moral by passing a pathway to citizenship to protect immigrant communities — but this requires courage. Senators Rubio and Scott must act urgently to support the Dream Act and ensure that Florida’s Dreamers no longer have to live with the harrowing threat of deportation. At the end of the day, our senators must listen to the majority of Americans and create a new anniversary to celebrate: the day the Dream Act passes, and Dreamers are finally recognized as the Americans they are.”

Josie Bacallao, Hispanic Unity of Florida: “Dreamers help boost our economy and contribute greatly to our communities. DACA has allowed many of these young immigrants to legally study and work but has also empowered these immigrants to live out their American Dream. In fact, Florida’s 24,810 DACA recipients pay $72.5 million in state and local taxes and DACA-eligible residents as a whole hold over $400 million in spending power. Our team at Hispanic Unity Florida is committed to making sure Dreamers are able to gain independence, pursue productive occupations and participate in our government’s policy making process. It’s time for our elected legislators in Congress to make those opportunities permanently available by passing the Dream Act now.We applaud the congressional leaders who have already agreed to support the Dream Act which would make these opportunities permanent. We urge those who have yet to commit, to join their colleagues in making this a reality for these young people who represent the best of our country.”

Julio Fuentes, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “Legislation that provides a pathway to Dreamers and DACA recipients is both reflective of our American values and beneficial to our economy. As a leader of our state’s Hispanic Chamber of Congress, I see how these young immigrants continuously strive for excellence and drive innovation. The 394,176 immigrant entrepreneurs in our state speak to this. The Dream Act is this country’s chance to generate new jobs, products and services by granting protections to our highly productive Dreamers and DACA recipients. Congress cannot delay this any longer.”

Pastor Rhonda Thomas, Executive Director of Faith in Florida: “Across the country, a massive network of congregations and advocacy groups are pushing Congress to finally pass legislation that gives much needed relief to Dreamers. Heading that mission here in the Sunshine State, we at Faith in Florida are dedicated to ensuring that all immigrants are treated with respect and able to participate. Legislative action for our Dreamers is the moral and logical step to fulfilling this mission, and is what’s best for our entire state and nation. Congress must urgently pass an earned pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.”

NEW REPORT SHOWS PROPOSED IMMIGRATION REFORMS’ NATIONWIDE POPULARITY

In its newly-released, comprehensive Pathway to Citizenship Report, FWD.us research finds American voters across party lines overwhelmingly support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Support is especially high for immigrant essential workers, Dreamers who came to this country as children, those relying on temporary protections, parents and spouses of U.S. citizens, and people seeking asylum.

Recent polling shows almost all legislation that would reform our immigration system and create pathways to citizenship has the support of at least two-thirds of Americans, including voters from both parties and in crucial swing states.

  • Nationally, support for a pathway to citizenship is exceptionally strong.
    • 71% of the U.S. public supports the Dream Act, a bill that would give Dreamers, or those who came to the U.S. as children, a pathway to citizenship.
    • Similarly, 71% of respondents in the same poll support offering a pathway to citizenship to farmworkers.
    • Two-thirds (66%) support offering citizenship to essential workers.
  • Recent FWD.us polling also finds very strong levels of support for a pathway to citizenship in battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All of these battleground states will determine the control of Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.
    • Fully 79% support creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. 10 years or longer.
    • Similarly, 79% support citizenship for undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen children, while 75% support citizenship for those married to U.S. citizens.
    • Another 71% support creating a pathway to citizenship for people seeking asylum, and a further 68% support citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are temporarily protected from deportation under Temporary Protected Status.

MORE THAN 90% OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS WOULD BE PROTECTED UNDER LEGISLATION THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN PROPOSED

The majority of undocumented immigrants have spent years building lives in this country and contributing greatly to the economy. With undocumented immigrants already filling substantial shares of critical occupations, America’s workforce will need undocumented immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship for a strong, post-COVID-19 economy.

  • Of Florida’s undocumented population:
    • 51% are essential workers.
    • 21% are Dreamers.
    • 12% are farmworkers.
    • 31% are parents and/or spouses of U.S. citizens.
    • 56% have been in the U.S. 10+ years.

Legislation already exists to create a pathway to citizenship for 93% of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

  • An estimated 9.3 million undocumented immigrants would be eligible for a pathway to citizenship under legislation that has already been proposed, including:
    • Essential workers (5.2 million);
    • Individuals living in the U.S. for ten or more years (6.7 million);
    • Parents of U.S. citizen minor children (3.0 million);
    • Spouses of U.S. citizens (1.7 million);
    • Dreamers who came to the U.S. as children (2.0 million);
    • Farmworkers (650,000);
    • Those with Temporary Protected Status (640,000);
    • Individuals seeking asylum and awaiting a decision (640,000); and
    • Individuals waiting for an adjustment or change of status (410,000).

DACA RECIPIENTS IN FLORIDA ARE AVAILABLE FOR BOOKING UPON REQUEST

About FWD.us: FWD.us is a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential. For too long, our broken immigration and criminal justice systems have locked too many people out of the American dream. Founded by leaders in the technology and business communities, we seek to grow and galvanize political support to break through partisan gridlock and achieve meaningful reforms. Together, we can move America forward.

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