The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of TGV News.
By: Jim Hollandsworth
When hardworking and beloved community members need help, it is our duty to support them and stand up for them.
This is especially true for Georgia’s immigrant community, particularly the 20,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients living in the Peach State alongside us. These immigrants, who came to our country with their families as children and only know America as their home, offer their ambition, skills, and talents to the Peach State every day – but their status in our country is in jeopardy.
Last October, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the DACA program illegal. Now, as a Texas District Court further evaluates the program, uncertainty prevails as the program’s termination in its entirety seems more imminent than ever before.
If DACA ends without a congressional solution in place, work authorization and deportation protections for these immigrants would be yanked away overnight. As their friends, neighbors and coworkers, we cannot let that happen – particularly considering all that they have contributed to our state’s success over the past decade.
Georgia DACA recipients have solid ambitions and big dreams, showcased through their hard work across a variety of our industries. Today, nearly three-quarters of DACA recipients in our state are employed in our labor force, filling key job openings and propelling us to great success. During the pandemic at a time when workers were more sought after than ever before, around 5,600 Georgia DACA recipients were employed in essential industries, including healthcare, agriculture, transportation and education. Without them, our pandemic recovery and our workforce vitality would have suffered immensely.
DACA recipients also play a significant role in our state’s economic success. As patrons of our businesses and restaurants, taxpayers, and business owners themselves, it is estimated that the end of DACA would cost Georgia over $1 billion in annual GDP losses and millions in annual tax revenue.
In my work with the Path United, I have been able to work directly with many DACA recipients, which has allowed me to see just how deserving this community is of protection and the immense rewards that we will get in return. In 2011, I met a young man named Emmanuel who had recently begun attending our after-school programs at Path United. When Emmanuel was six-years-old, his parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico. As I got to know Emmanuel, I quickly realized he was a smart, honest and talented. Emmanuel has gone on to become a small business owner and most DACA recipients in Georgia work, pay taxes, and are a positive members of our community, however, access to certainty will help Georgia immigrants go above and beyond.
I urge Senator Ossoff and Senator Warnock to work with their colleagues to enact a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers in the new Congress. This could be the best opportunity for a long time in a divided Congress and Dreamers simply can’t wait any longer as they await continued court decisions.
Senator Ossoff has previously said, “Dreamers, DACA recipients, are every bit as American as any of us,” and that he will “have [their] back in the Senate.” And Senator Warnock has said, “I’ll always be an advocate for Georgia’s immigrants, and I won’t stop fighting in Washington for the policies we need to ensure all of our loved ones, friends and neighbors can live full lives free from fear.”
I hope they stay true to their word and work with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put partisan disagreements aside and come together for a greater good – not just for Dreamers, but for us all. I am optimistic that change is possible, and I hope to see that change sooner rather than later.