Last month, the justices of the Supreme Court reaffirmed deeply held American values by protecting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program has given thousands of young people the chance to build lives for themselves here and make countless contributions to their communities and their families.
This nation is their home; they’ve earned the right to stay, to live and to work here in the United States. I am extremely pleased the Supreme Court recognized their right to stay. Their ruling was a monumental victory, but the fight to permanently protect DACA recipients is not over.
The DACA program, since its inception in 2012, has granted nearly 700,000 young immigrants, after a rigorous application and background check process, the ability to live and work here in the United States without fear of deportation. The program was designed to protect young immigrants who came to this country as children with their families. DACA recipients have grown up here in the United States and consider this country to be their home. They have attended school here, made friends here and built lives for themselves and their families here.
With its important ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s 2017 attempt to end the program and deport these young Americans. The court made the right decision by choosing to side with immigrants working to build a better life for themselves and their families, instead of siding with the administration’s cruel and unnecessary attempt to end DACA.
Here in Utah, immigrants play an important role in the health and continued growth of our state. Many of our state’s 8,500 DACA recipients are working hard as small business owners, students, entrepreneurs, economic multipliers and dedicated employees. DACA recipients have more than shown that they are critical members of our economy.
In fact, as executive director of the Utah Hotel and Lodging Association, I know from experience the incredible impact that DACA recipients have on our state’s economy and, more specifically, on the hotel industry.
Utah has long been a place where immigrants can come to build a better life. Here in Utah, if you’re willing to work hard, you can create a better future. No matter where you’re from, no matter where you’re born, Utah has a long legacy of accepting and supporting immigrants. We are better off for having immigrants as our neighbors, friends and coworkers. Thankfully, due to the court’s decision, DACA recipients in Utah can breathe a bit easier for the first time in nearly three years.
While the court’s ruling was an incredible victory, it is not the end of the fight to protect Dreamers. There are reports that the Trump administration, angered by the Supreme Court’s decision to protect DACA recipients, will soon try again to end the program.
Ultimately, the only thing that can permanently protect Dreamers is a legislative solution that comes from Congress. Congress must work together and pass legislation that once and for all protects Dreamers from deportation and provides them a pathway to citizenship.
Fortunately, legislation that would accomplish those necessary goals has already been written and voted on. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act on a bipartisan basis. The bill is waiting for a vote in the Senate and I urge Sens. Romney and Lee to recognize the urgent threat facing Dreamers and work with their colleagues to pass in a bipartisan manner this critical legislation.
It’s time for the Senate to do its job and ensure that DACA recipients will always be able to call this nation home.
Jordan Garn is the executive director of the Utah Hotel Lodging Association.