National campaign urges Congress to act on 'dreamers'


In Illinois, the DACA-eligible population paid $42.6 million in state and local taxes.   File photo

A national campaign urging congressional movement on "Dreamers"  has begun with an emphasis on highlighting the beneficial financial impact to each state.

Dreamers is the name used for those immigrants brought to the United States as children but who remain  undocumented, or illegal. In 2012, then-President Barack Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA), a policy that stopped any move to deport an estimated 800,000 individuals and allowed them to apply for work permits.

President Donald Trump's administration rescinded that policy, but gave Congress six months to draw up and pass legislation making Dreamers legal residents.

New American Economy (NAE) and dozens of national partner organizations last month hosted iMarch for Immigration, a  50-state campaign to showcase America’s broken immigration system and call for a solution for dreamers this year, according to a press release issued by the group.

As part of the iMarch for Immigration Campaign, NAE released an interactive map of immigration stories from all 435 congressional districts that could be shared directly with legislators on imarch.us.

“There’s a growing chorus with a simple message for Congress – step up and fix our broken immigration system, starting with a fix for Dreamers,” NAE President John Feinblatt told Illinois Business Daily. “Today, in D.C. and across the country, you’ll hear from leaders of every political stripe who agree it’s not only the right thing, but also the economically smart thing for America to do.”

In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, 35 GOP representatives called for a permanent legislative fix to those who took advantage of DACA. Illinois Reps. Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger were among those who signed the letter.

It read, "DACA recipients - young people brought to America through no fault of their own - are contributing members of our communities and our economy. For many, this is the only country they have ever known. They are American in every way except their immigration status."

The NAE is a business-led organization launched in 2013 by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp, the mass media company that owns Fox.

More than 500 Republican, Democratic, and independent mayors and business leaders have signed up to support the organization's aims, the NAE said.

Detractors argue the organization is a well-funded front to help businesses in the U.S. tap cheaper labor. This view is voiced by, among others, the Breitbart News site, which is run by Trump's former chief of staff, Steve  Bannon.

In Illinois, the DACA-eligible population paid $42.6 million in state and local taxes in 2014, and held $455.2 million in spending power, a new NAE study found. Further, there are 1,772,722 immigrants in the state and 58,890 DACA-eligible individuals.

More than 281,090 people are employed at immigrant-owned firms in the state, and there are 1,507 DACA-eligible entrepreneurs.

The NAE said its coalition members include mayors of cities and towns of more than 35 million people as well as business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion in revenue annually.

These businesses employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from agriculture to aerospace, hospitality, high tech industries,  media and manufacturing, the NAE said.

Congress is being asked to negotiate a legal remedy for DACA-eligible recipients, who, the NAE argue, contribute billions of dollars nationally. 

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