Column: Congress should protect Dreamers for the good of Florida and the country

Published December 7 2017
Updated December 7 2017

I was one of the Dreamers from across the country who recently went to Washington, D.C., with business leaders to urge lawmakers to pass the Dream Act or legislation like it before the end of the year. This crucial bill would permanently protect Dreamers from deportation and create a legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, including an earned pathway to citizenship for hardworking young individuals who came here as children.

I walked through our nationís Capitol to fight for not only what is right, but for what is best for the United States.

Named for the hoped-for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act, we Dreamers give a boost to the U.S. economy through spending and by paying billions of dollars in federal, state and local taxes. Ripping Dreamers out of the workforce will result in more than $460 billion in lost GDP over the next decade. On the other side of the coin, new estimates show that passing a Dream Act that creates an earned pathway to citizenship for Dreamers could add as much as $1 trillion to the national GDP over a decade.

With the passage of the Dream Act, Florida would have 117,000 immediate eligible workers who would contribute up to $4.1 billion every year to the stateís GDP. The construction sector in Florida will also be of utmost importance as the state recovers from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, and passing the Dream Act would add up to $416 million to the construction sector each year in Florida.

If Congress fails to pass a Dream Act, nearly 300,000 Dreamers will be ripped out of the American workforce within the first nine months after the March 5 deadline. The removal of all 800,000 Dreamers from the workforce would cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs. Contributions to Medicare and Social Security would also be cut by $24.6 billion over a decade.

New research by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, shows the consequences to the U.S. economy and the cost to the federal government if DACA were repealed. Cato indicated that the aggregate economic cost would be over $200 billion and the cost to the government would be $60 billion.

There are enough bipartisan votes to protect Dreamers in both the House and the Senate. Congress can include the bipartisan Dream Act in the year-end funding to provide an earned pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, which has the support of a majority in Congress and nearly 90 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of Republicans.

While in Washington, we emphasized that Congress must now decide whether it is going to allow Dreamers the chance to earn a path to citizenship by passing permanent legislation, or whether it is going to watch innocent lives being ripped out of their communities and deported to countries they may not even remember.

As a current student at Southeastern University finishing up my MBA and a creator of several initiatives helping to fill needs in the community in entrepreneurial ways, I am just one example of a DACA success story. I urge Congress to pass the Dream Act so that Dreamers can continue their contribution and stop living in fear.

Sayra Lozano, is a member of the Florida coalition, a DACA recipient and a graduate student at Southeastern University.