Jon Fox-Rubin: The importance of the Dream Act
Earlier this month, Aspen Skiing Co. joined FWD.us in hosting an immigration roundtable event. Multiple Aspen-area stakeholders were invited to discuss a variety of immigration issues including worker visas and the DACA program. FWD.us is a bipartisan organization started by key leaders in the tech and business community to promote policies to keep the United States competitive in a global economy, starting with commonsense immigration reform.
Organizations that participated in the immigration roundtable discussion included the Valley Settlement, Skico, Colorado Mountain College, Altai, Pitkin County, Aspen Community Foundation, Aspen Square Hotel, elected officials and others.
Local business leaders agreed that if the immigration system is not fixed soon, Pitkin County businesses will not have the needed workforce to run its hotels, restaurants and other businesses that our resort economy so desperately depends on. We can all agree that Aspen is a unique community. However, this same issue affects our neighboring farmers on the Western Slope who are working to address similar workforce struggles.
Staffers from Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Cory Gardner, and Rep. Scott Tipton’s offices attended the roundtable. They acknowledged the need to fix our immigration system and were receptive to how the current broken system affects Colorado businesses.
The repeal of DACA has created a dire emergency for Dreamers across the country and for the millions of Americans who live, work and study with them every single day. Those in attendance at the Aspen Roundtable agreed that Congress should immediately pass legislation, such as the bipartisan Dream Act, that would protect Dreamers. If Congress does not act, then beginning March 6, every single new business day a new 1,400 DACA recipients will lose their ability to work legally and be subject to immediate deportation. This would cost our economy an astronomical $460.3 billion and $856.9 million in annual GDP loss to Colorado alone.
Significant momentum continues to build for bipartisan legislation that would allow Dreamers to continue to live, work and contribute to the only country most of them have ever known.
Since the DACA repeal announcement Sept. 5, Republican co-sponsors for both the bipartisan Dream Act and the Republican-authored RAC Act have nearly tripled, with support coming from Colorado’s Sen. Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, among others.
Recently, nearly 800 entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country and representing every major sector of the economy released an open letter calling on Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act or a permanent legislative solution that provides Dreamers raised in our country the solution they deserve.
In deciding to end the DACA program without first passing a permanent legislative solution, President Donald Trump has put the lives of nearly 800,000 hardworking young people at immediate risk. If we lose DACA without permanent legislation in place, these hundreds of thousands of young people who came to this country as children and contribute billions of dollars to our economy will lose the ability to work legally — and will become subject to outright deportation.
Please join those of us in the Roaring Fork Valley area who are urging Congress to pass the Dream Act now. It’s time for a solution.
Jon Fox-Rubin was with The Manaus Fund before launching Valley Settlement as a nonprofit in 2017.
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