Colorado business leaders advocate for DACA legislation by year’s end
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EAGLE COUNTY — As resorts, retailers and restaurants face their annual challenge of staffing up for the 2017-18 ski season, the last thing they need is federal policy that makes it more difficult to find workers.
That’s why Colorado business leaders, including leaders in the resort industry, have pledged support for efforts to address the urgency of passing a legislative solution for Dreamers before the end of the year.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals individuals, also known as Dreamers, comprise roughly 800,000 young people who came to the United States as children and stand to lose their protections from deportation and their ability to work if Congress does not pass a legislative solution.
“Look, this is an important issue not only on a moral level, but on an economic level,” said Peter Boogaard, communications director for fwd.us. “It’s a big reason why businesses locally and nationally have become so involved.”
During a statewide conference call held Nov. 15, business leaders spread the message that Colorado is home to 17,300 Dreamers and stands to lose $856.9 million in annual gross domestic product if these individuals are removed from the state workforce.
“DACA recipients are talented, hardworking and full of potential and promise. Many live here in Colorado, work in our mountain communities and attend our local colleges, like Colorado Mountain College in Eagle County,” said Chris Romer, president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership. “In Congressional District 3, removing DACA recipients from the workforce would cost us $95.7 million in annual GDP loss. This is not just a social issue, this is an economic issue.”
A new study released last week by fwd.us found that if a Dream Act is not passed and implemented by Monday, March 5, then nationwide nearly 300,000 DACA recipients — 1,700 per business day — would be removed from the workforce between Tuesday, March 6, and Tuesday, Nov. 6. Kicking Dreamers out of the workforce will result in more than $460 billion in lost GDP over the next decade. In contrast, 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.
Fwd.us data estimate that if a Dream Act is passed, Colorado’s GDP could increase by $438 million over the next decade.
During the Nov. 15 call, local and state business leaders urged members of Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution.
“We thank Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Cory Gardner for co-sponsoring the Dream Act,” said Mizraim Cordero, vice president of government affairs for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “We urge all members of our Congressional delegation to support this legislative solution to help Coloradans.”
Boogaard said there are a number of moving pieces regarding DACA legislation but noted that there is significant momentum building for Dreamers protections. That support is coming from both sides of the aisle, Boogaard said. Likewise in communities across the country, he said the issue is finding widespread support.
“This doesn’t need to be a controversial issue,” Boogaard said. “At the end of the day, I know there is overwhelming public support from both Democrats and Republicans to support Dreamers.”
“Dreamers make significant and enduring contributions to the business community. Six percent of Dreamers are entrepreneurs who start businesses and employ native-born Americans at their companies, helping to grow our economy, expand opportunity and grow the American middle class,” said Jeff Wasden, president of the Colorado Business Roundtable during the Nov. 15 conference call.
Along with the various business interests included in the statewide call, the event also explored what the national debate means to individuals most directly affected by it.
“I am just one of many Dreamers in Colorado who works every day to strengthen my local community. If Congress cannot pass a legislative solution for Dreamers and my DACA card expires, I and many others will lose our jobs. If I can no longer work, how will the people of my community get the help they need?” said Dreamer Claudia Garcia, a cultural navigator for the Tri-County Health Network. “I don’t want to spend the holiday season having to worry about if this is my last holiday in the United States. I need Congress to act now, and I urge my Congressman Scott Tipton, and other members of the Colorado delegation, to stand with Dreamers and support Dreamer legislation before the year is up.”
“If this issue is not addressed, many Dreamers will be ripped out of the only communities they have ever known,” Boogaard said. “They contribute to those communities, and they have families here. This is a very real problem.”