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Monday , May 21 2018
Home | Opinion | Op-Ed: Jose Rodriguez – Fix DREAMER Issue, Then Get On With The Rest
State Senator Jose Rodriguez | Photo courtesy Sen. Rodriguez office

Op-Ed: Jose Rodriguez – Fix DREAMER Issue, Then Get On With The Rest

A recent Golden Girls rerun featured a 10-year-old Mario Lopez playing Mario, a star pupil of Dorothy (Bea Arthur), who writes an award-winning essay about being an American, only to be deported by INS (now known as ICE).

The 1987 episode ends with Dorothy vowing to bring him back. Thirty years later, we’re still fighting for Mario and all the other DREAMers raised in the United States, taught in American schools, and in every way American except in their immigration documentation. It has been more than 15 years since U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to give DREAMers permanent residency. It’s 2018, and Congress still hasn’t passed the DREAM Act or anything resembling comprehensive immigration reform.

Instead, we have seen increasingly punitive measures, more “boots on the ground,” curtailing Constitutional rights, ending the longstanding immigration pillar of keeping families united, and walls along the southern border, in many cases requiring private property seizures. In 1996, Congress passed anti-immigrant measures that removed benefits, enhanced penalties, and mandated local data-sharing with federal enforcement agencies. Since 2001, the Border Patrol has doubled in size, and federal “border security” spending is more than all other principal federal law enforcement. Border fences in major urban areas force immigrants onto treacherous desert lands, resulting in thousands of deaths and damage to private property. Not even record-high deportations by President Obama appeased border security-only zealots.

Finally, absent meaningful, positive Congressional action, President Obama implemented DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It provides relief to recipients and their families, and benefits to their communities. They are, after all, friends and neighbors, workers, small business owners, students – in short, contributors to our country.

The Perryman Group recently studied this. Total benefits nationwide of DREAMers, considering multiplier effects, are estimated at $188.6 billion in output and $117.3 billion in income annually, with nearly 2.1 million jobs. The direct economic gains from Texas DREAMers are estimated at $11.5 billion in output and $7.2 billion in income each year; in total, they help generate $25.8 billion in annual output and 324,000 jobs. A CBS News poll found that 87 percent of Americans believe DREAMers should remain in the U.S. if, for example,  they are working or going to school.

Despite their economic contributions and overwhelming public support, the Trump administration – under pressure from anti-immigrant zealots and extremist politicians – stripped DREAMers of their protections under DACA. In fact, Texas’ Attorney General has threatened a lawsuit to remove DREAMERs from the country. Trump flip-flopped and created the crisis for DREAMers, who now face a return to the days where achievements, like winning a writing contest, places them at risk.

Ultimately, we need comprehensive immigration reform — sensible public policy that acknowledges the realities of undocumented immigration, the injustices of punitive laws, and the benefits of immigration. Thoughtful reform makes our country safer and more competitive.

Those larger fixes can come later, with due deliberation. Immediately, before Feb. 8, when Congress must pass a bill to maintain government operations, we must fix the crisis created by Trump’s erratic actions, and allow DREAMers to stay in the only home they know.

***

Sen. Jose Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes both urban and rural constituencies and more than 350 miles of U.S.-Mexico border

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3 comments

  1. I have news for you Jose, you don’t get a fix for your “dreamers”, until the money is allocated for border security. You guys have lied before about that.

  2. Mr. Rodriguez, your commentary is flawed in so many ways, but let’s pretend that everything you wrote is correct.

    There are estimated to be approximately 800K “dreamers” or DACA recipients in the U.S. Ok, let’s assume those 800K people are all virtuous and a benefit to our country and need to be immediately legalized.

    Then what about the other estimated 10.5 million illegals who are here that are not “dreamers”? Can we start deporting them? No? They get to stay too?

    Mr. Rodriguez, be honest for once. What you REALLY want is amnesty and a pathway to citizenship (voting rights) for 11 million illegal aliens, not 800K “dreamers”. The whole “dreamer” debate is a distraction. You want amnesty first, and border security second because you have no intention of doing anything to secure the border and will be demanding amnesty for 11 million more people 20 years from now. “its the humane thing to do don’t ya know”. We’ve seen the is play before and Americans are on to the scheme Joe.

  3. Remember, he’s focused on El Paso not becoming “Gringolandia”…

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