Across the country, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – known as DACA – had protected from the possibility of deportation roughly 800,000 young immigrants who have grown up in the United States. These young adults were all brought here as children before they were old enough to choose where to live. All DACA recipients have been living in this country continuously since at least 2007, before President Trump’s predecessor took office, and many have been living in Georgia much longer than that. After their arrivals many years ago, they planted roots in our state and, despite large challenges, are working hard and getting by. The vast majority are employed in full-time positions for Georgia businesses. Some work in the service industries that are vital to our state’s local economy, and many others are thriving as young professionals, teachers, pastors, and entrepreneurs. Thanks to the program, all have been working legally.
Much like my four kids, these young immigrants were, in the words of Zac Brown, “raised up beneath the shade of a Georgia pine.” For them, like my kids, this is home. I’ve prayed with them in Georgia churches where, like many in our communities, they praise God for their lives. I’ve seen them in Georgia schools where they have learned to pledge allegiance to the American flag and to work hard chasing the American Dream. It’s safe to say that there’s more red clay under their fingernails than mine. These are good people, hardworking Georgians, who we would all be proud to call neighbors. They deserve a chance to keep growing up here beneath the shade of our Southern pines.