Eight Florida mayors urge Congress to pass ‘Dreamer’ legislation

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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and six other Florida mayors have signed a letter urging Congress to pass a bipartisan bill allowing so-called “Dreamers” to earn permanent legal status and (possibly) ultimately citizenship.

Members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a policy in June to support permanent legal status for Dreamers — undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. as minors and are covered under President Barck Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Last month, the Trump administration said they would dismantle DACA in six months, but it had appeared that a deal had been stuck with Democratic congressional leaders just a few days later.

That deal now appears to be off the table after the Trump administration announced Sunday night a series of largely conservative policies that it wanted to be included in the final package. It includes funding for a border wall, preventing immigrants from sponsoring their extended families in moving legally to the US and limiting such green cards to spouses and children.

It also outlined the closing of “loopholes” that prevent the deportation of children who enter the country illegally.

“These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” Trump wrote in his letter to Congress.

“Because of the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate DACA in six months, this legislation must be passed as quickly as possible so that the benefits to Dreamers, to our cities, and to our nation can continue,” the mayors write in their letter to Congress. “It would remove Dreamers’ fears of deportation and allow them to contribute even more to the country they love, which for many is the only country they have known. They would be able to reach their full potential in many ways, including serving in the military.”

In addition to Dyer, other Florida mayors who have co-signed on the letter include Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III, Miramar Mayor Wayne M. Messam, Oakland Park Mayor John Adornato II from Oakland Park, Sunrise Mayor Michael J. Ryan, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer.

Read the letter below:

Dear Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate:

We write on behalf of the nation’s mayors to urge you to quickly pass bipartisan legislation that would enable Dreamers — people who have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here — to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they meet certain criteria. We pledge to work with you in this effort and to do whatever we can to assist you in seeing it enacted into law.

This June at the 85th annual meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors, we adopted strong policy supporting permanent legal status for Dreamers and extension of the DACA program. We did this because it is the right thing to do — for Dreamers, for our communities and for our country.

DACA has benefitted nearly 800,000 undocumented youth since it began in 2012. With work authorization and without the fear of deportation, these young people, who have done nothing illegal, have been able to participate in and contribute to our country, our cities and the nation’s economy: Eighty-seven percent of DACA recipients are employed by American businesses, and six percent have started their own businesses, leading to higher wages and better economic outcomes.

DACA recipients contribute 15.3 percent of their wages to taxes, which fund Social Security and Medicare, and DACA recipients are investing in assets like houses, and starting new businesses, bringing significant tax revenue to cities and states.

It is expected that DACA recipients will contribute $9.9 billion in tax contributions over the next four years, and at least $433.4 billion to our gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade. There is broad public support for Dreamers.

— Seventy-six percent of Americans support citizenship or permanent status for Dreamers.

— Seventy-one percent of Americans feel undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

— Seventy-five percent of Americans who voted for the President support Dreamers.

Because of the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate DACA in six months, this legislation must be passed as quickly as possible so that the benefits to Dreamers, to our cities, and to our nation can continue. It would remove Dreamers’ fears of deportation and allow them to contribute even more to the country they love, which for many is the only country they have known. They would be able to reach their full potential in many ways, including serving in the military. The U.S. Conference of Mayors pledges to work with you to make this happen.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]



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