Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2024

An appeal to Congress: Please come to the aid of DACA participants

Today, the Department of Homeland Security will stop accepting renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Across the country, many young people like me are scrambling to come up with attorney fees and the $495 we need to re-apply and then to get paperwork filed on time.

I pray that someday I won’t have to go through this process. I believe in my heart that I’m an American. I’ve been here for 17 years. I graduated from a high school in Oklahoma and currently I am pursuing a career as a doctor. All the memories I have made are from this great country. I’m not an American on paper, however, and with DACA ending Congress must pass a bill like the Dream Act that would allow me a shot at achieving my hope of legal permanent residency.

I’m in Washington this week to meet with members of Congress to encourage them to do just that.

I believe most Americans, even those who want enhanced border security, want to give me that opportunity. While getting our applications together has been daunting, we’ve been fortunate that states and cities, not-for-profit organizations and even small pubs and other companies have rallied around us, helping to raise the money we need. More than 800 business leaders from every sector of the economy and all across the nation have written to congressional leaders asking them to pass the Dream Act. This support has heartened us, and made us feel even more a part of the communities in which we live.

Polls also show Americans support our cause. Last week, The Washington Post and ABC News released the results of a survey that asked voters their feelings about immigration. Almost nine in 10 respondents said they support DACA.

We also know that the president and many prominent conservatives want Congress to pass the Dream Act, or similar legislation. President Donald Trump has said he would revisit his choice to end DACA if Congress chose not to act. He’s said he had “great love” for me and my fellow recipients and he’s implied that no one wanted to deport “good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs” or were serving in our military.

I hope he’s right, and I’m encouraged that other prominent Republicans have echoed the president’s statements. House Speaker Paul Ryan has acknowledged that Dreamers “know no other country” as their home. He’s said that both he and the president want a humane solution. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the conservative Republican senator from Utah, explained that we’ve “built (our) lives here.” He also wants a bill and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., also wants to find “real solutions.”

If Congress doesn’t pass a bill like the Dream Act, I will lose the opportunity to continue my studies and I won’t be able to use the skills I am learning to help the people who have done so much for me. Over the next two years, every DACA recipient will lose his or her ability to work, go to school, or serve in the U.S. military. According to the Center for American Progress and data from the Cato Institute (two Washington think tanks you don’t often find on the same end of the ideological spectrum), each day 1,400 young people will lose their jobs. That will hurt me, but Cato says it also will cost U.S. employers $6.3 billion.

Those costs would be needless. My fellow Dreamers and I — we are here to work. We want to start businesses, to volunteer at our schools and churches, and to buy homes and cars. We even want to pay taxes. (How many Americans can say that?)

In fact, we already do pay taxes. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, we supply about $2 billion in revenue each year to state and local governments. That money is used to pay public school teachers, to provide for local law enforcement, and to rebuild local infrastructure.

I want to stay. I want to help make this country great again.

I hope that members of Congress will be open to my dreams, and will pass legislation that will help me achieve them.

Jesus Perez is a pre-med student at Oklahoma State University and is pursuing a degree in psychology. He was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when he was 7. He wrote this for

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