Even though DACA has been tremendously successful, court challenges to the policy’s constitutionality have limited its scope and are preventing thousands of other Georgia Dreamers from applying for protections.
While still in the program, DACA beneficiaries live through constant uncertainty and can only renew their status every two years. Further, the program is currently closed to new applicants, rendering many Dreamers ineligible. Not only is the legal standing of DACA recipients and all Dreamers in the U.S. on the line, but they have to face other inequities at home, such as being blocked from partaking in programs available to all other Georgia taxpayers, like in-state tuition.
While Georgia state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have worked to alleviate some of the financial strains for Dreamers through tuition equity legislation, it has yet to cross the finish line despite progress during this year’s state legislative session. Tuition equity is a win-win and lawmakers should get this done. The policy could add $10 million to Georgia’s economy each year and having more Dreamers graduate from college will increase our state’s talent pool for decades of success.
Meanwhile, Congress needs to act and provide our Dreamers a pathway to citizenship so that Georgia Dreamers who have kept our state going and only want to raise their families, work and pay taxes can achieve the American Dream. If given the opportunity to earn a pathway to citizenship, DACA recipients could add $14 billion to the nation’s overall GDP growth.
As a legislative solution is ironed out, the Latin American Association will continue to empower Georgia’s immigrants by offering services from adult education and literacy classes to youth programs and employment services to continue driving diversity and positive growth throughout our communities. We’ll continue joining forces with leaders and community members to ensure our state’s success, and it is time Congress does the same.
Carolina Ramos is the director of advocacy and outreach at the Latin American Association in Atlanta.