Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara joined local Dreamers and leaders on a conference call Thursday to discuss why a legislative solution for Dreamers is so urgent for Illinois and America, and to call on U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, to pass a standalone Dream Act.
“We have invested in these young people through education, and they’re truly paying us back with being teachers in our community, engineers, small business owners,” McNamara said on the call. “I just don’t want to see us squander their talents and penalize cities such as Rockford and our entire nation. “
More than 42,000 DACA recipients are Illinois residents whose futures and opportunities to fully contribute to their communities are threatened by President Trump’s decision to end the popular and successful DACA program.
An estimated 1,200 DACA-eligible residents live in Kinzinger’s 16th Congressional District, according to research by the University of Southern California. An additional 1,600 live in the neighboring 17th Congressional District of U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline. The annual GDP loss from removing DACA workers would amount to approximately $37.7 million in the 16th District and $49.3 million in the 17th District.
The Center for American Progress estimates that Illinois has 96,000 Dream Act-eligible individuals in the workforce and would see annual state GDP gains between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion from passage of the Dream Act.
The call was made in reaction to the spring deadline created by the Trump administration for 154,000 Dreamers to renew their status. Tens of thousands of Dreamers will lose DACA if Congress can’t pass a Dream Act. If no “clean” bill is passed, the provisions must be included in the bill that funds the government in December.
Kinzinger is a cosponsor of the Recognizing America's Children Act (RACA).
Here are some of the comments from the call:
Rockford Mayor Thomas P. McNamara: “Rockford has a rich history of immigrants with a long and proud legacy of building this community from the ground up. Their contributions to our community are strong, and I’m concerned that the Trump Administration’s recent action will impede the progress we have made. I’m urging our members of Congress to collaborate on a legislative solution that provides a clear path to citizenship.”
Dr. Vernese Edghill-Walden, Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer, Northern Illinois University: “Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees, Acting President Freeman and senior leadership continue to support our undocumented and DACA students. We continue to encourage congress to find a legislative solution to best support our students.”
Sandy Lopez, Advisor for DREAM Action NIU and Assistant to the Director of the NIU Center for Latino and Latin American Studies: “The loss of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will impact NIU student’s ability to pay for higher education as they do not qualify for federal or state funding and cannot apply for government loans. It will also impede undocumented students from enrolling at NIU and other institutions of higher education. DREAM ACTION NIU, a NIU student organization, is actively advocating for this legislative solution.”
Josephine Minor, League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford: “The LWVGR and LWVIL and the LWVUS are all asking Congress to pass a clean Dream Act. LWVGR believes that DACA recipients are an integral and productive part of our community. They are our neighbors, our students, our children, and they know no other country than the USA. They have done nothing wrong. It is unconscionable that they should fear deportation to an unknown country.”
German, DACA recipient and Rockford resident: “The lives and future of Dreamers is something that should not be politicized. I am the father of three young U.S. Citizen children, which means that my family needs the Dream Act to stay together. Congress needs to pass the Dream Act as soon as possible so that I can continue to work, pay my taxes, and meet my financial obligations – like making payments on my home in Rockford.”
Christian, DACA recipient and Rockford resident: “I came to the U.S. at age 11. I love the U.S. and want to build my future here. DACA opened a lot of doors for me and gave me a purpose that I had lost. I am now working full time, supporting myself, driving, and going to college part time. With the end of DACA, I feel like the life support that DACA offered has been taken away."
Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Counsel, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: “ICIRR and our over 100 member organizations are once again pushing for the immediate passage of a clean version of the DREAM Act, which will finally give some immigrants a pathway to citizenship. Without it, immigrants who had been protected by DACA could face deportation. We are calling on Rep. Kinzinger and all members of Congress to keep families together and allow immigrants to thrive.”