Leaders of the Southwest Organizing Project are horrified at today’s White House announcement to end the highly successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has a tremendous impact on the lives of nearly 800,000 young immigrants and their communities across the United States, including more than 42,000 who live in Illinois.
“Our federal government, through the much publicized DACA program, both encouraged and made a promise to young people that if they cooperated with the Federal Government, passed background checks and met other stringent requirements, they would be allowed to live and work legally in our communities without fear of deportation or reprisal,” said Jeff Bartow, Executive Director of the Southwest Organizing Project. “To break those promises to hardworking young residents and their families by ending DACA and removing the pledged protections is an injustice of the highest magnitude and inflicts tremendous damage to our country and our state far into the future, both economically and morally.”
The economic impact of the end of the DACA program is estimated to reduce our national GNP by more than $430 Billion over the next decade and cost the State of Illinois nearly $2.3 Billion annually in GDP losses. Many employers will lose strong employees they rely on, families will lose much needed incomes, and communities like ours all across the country will lose a generation of future leaders that we have invested so much in. Many of our residents who are US citizens risk separation from older brothers and sisters and even parents because of today’s terrible decision.
“I’ve come so far; being able to earn my degree in music, working to provide for my family, being a role model for my parents,” said Adriana Velazquez, a DACA recipient. “It doesn’t make sense why such a decision has been made. Many of my friends who have DACA are now married and have children. We all have been constructing our lives over the last 5 years based on the promise the Federal Government made to us.”
The Southwest Organizing Project believes that all immigrants are an important part of the fabric of our community and all immigrants have the right to live free of fear and deserve a path to citizenship. We believe that the young people who took our federal government’s DACA offer at face value, worked hard and lived up to their end of the bargain represent some of the brightest parts of the future of our nation. And we condemn the decision by this administration to break the promise made to them, to their families, and to all the members of our community.