This Saturday is Constitution and Citizenship Day. A day to celebrate what is means to be a citizen of this great country, and for children to learn about the historical document that created the American Dream. But there’s sadness in the air this year as the day approaches. It’s impossible to recognize this holiday without thinking about the 6,000 young people in Minnesota whose chance at the American Dream may be ripped from their grasp.
Just last week, the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA gave 800,000 children of immigrants the opportunity to go to school, work, and raise a family in America without fear of deportation. The heartless, cruel, and divisive decision to end this critical program goes against our morals and the very premise of the United States of America.
Minnesota has a proud tradition as a state that welcomes people of all cultures and backgrounds. President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA will put the lives of 6,000 young people in our state, known as “Dreamers,” in an unstable and precarious situation. Dreamers share our values and strengthen our nation. They are our neighbors, coworkers, and dearest friends. They are nurses, engineers, small business owners, and more. Many came here at such a young age that America is the only country they’ve ever known, and the Star Spangled banner the only anthem they’ve ever sung.
While the emotional toll of expelling young people from the only home they have known cannot be calculated, the economic impact on our country can. It is estimated that deporting Dreamers from the workforce will cost the American economy more than $40 billion over the next 10 years. Businesses will lose workers, immigrant-owned companies will shutter, and promising careers will end. All of the economic activity driven by Dreamers will come to a screeching halt — resulting in a loss of over $360 million in annual GDP in Minnesota alone.
Congress now has six months to act or nearly 1 million people will be forced back into the shadows. This Constitution and Citizenship Day, let’s show our children what the spirit of our country is all about – having our voices heard. Contact your members of Congress. Call on them to stand up for Dreamers. Tell them to take legislative action immediately to protect these talented young people who contribute to our state’s economy every day.
Ken Martin is the chairman of the Minnesota DFL Party.
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