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Business and Education Leaders Urge for a Permanent DACA Solution

February 21, 2018

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

The deadline for Congress to act on the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, is approaching and local leaders are urging Congress to provide a permanent solution that will allow recipients of the program to continue contributing in the region’s economy.

President Donald Trump ended DACA in September 2017 and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative solution for nearly 800,000 individuals who benefit from the Obama-era program.

The administrative program gave young undocumented immigrants the ability to work legally in the country and granted them protection from deportation.

Since he announced the end of DACA, legislation has been proposed and federal judges have issued injunctions to protect recipients, however, no permanent legislative solution has been adopted.

There are an estimated 45,000 DACA recipients or eligible individuals in San Diego and 40,000 recipients are employed, according to a spokesperson of FWD.us, a bipartisan organization.

One of those individuals is Dulce Garcia, local attorney and DACA recipient, who owns a law firm in Barrio Logan and Chula Vista.

Garcia shared her story, contributions to the economy, and her fears with business and education leaders in the San Diego region, during a digital press call on Tuesday, Feb. 20, hosted by the bipartisan organization.

She said that since Trump ended the program, she cut her staff in half and has to consider the possibility that she will be deported.

“My employees are in disbelief that their boss is facing possibly shutting the business and facing deportation,” Garcia said. “I was well on track before the DACA decision to expand even more, employ more people, offer more internship opportunities, but because of this crisis I cut my staff in half.”

Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that they are urging lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation because they know that immigration is crucial to the success of the nation’s economic growth, during the call.

“If we want to create more jobs and continue to compete globally, we must welcome the talented individuals instead of trying to turn them away,” Sanders said. “We need the hard working immigrants, and taking them out of the economy would be disastrous for our regional economy.”

He encouraged Congress to pass a bipartisan bill like the Uniting and Supporting America Act, also known as the USA Act, which includes giving DACA recipients the ability to become permanent residents and some border security efforts, to protect the “Dreamers,” he said.

Bob Brower, president of Point Loma Nazarene University, agreed with Sanders’ comments and added that the uncertainty and concern about the future, especially for DACA students, is harmful.

In California alone, projections show that the state will be more than 2 million degrees short of the needed talent and workforce pool necessary to keep the California and Region of San Diego economy thriving, he said.

“These students are an essential part of the future, their completion rate and their success rate speaks well for their capacity to successfully engage in higher education, become productive members of our communities, and continue the talent development that is needed for innovation and the support of our economies,” Brower said.

Speakers also included: Karen Bajena, research coordinator at UC San Diego and DACA recipient; Mark Cafferty president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation; Matthew Sutton, vice president of California Restaurant Association; and Chris Duggan, director of local government affairs for the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

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