Thank You, Mayor, for Advocating for Our Dreamers

Few issues find this much consensus in Nebraska. Faith leaders, business leaders, and Nebraskans across the political spectrum agree that Dreamers deserve permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has transformed the lives of thousands of young immigrants in Nebraska who have contributed most of their time, professions, and careers to the United States and Nebraska’s communities and economy. Nationally, Dreamers have injected billions of dollars into our economy. Now, the program’s future is in jeopardy due to a politically motivated lawsuit backed by a small handful of attorneys general, including Nebraska’s.

That’s why we’re so glad to see one of Nebraska’s top elected officials speaking up for Nebraska Dreamers.

After we reached out to ask Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird to help us advocate for Dreamers, Mayor Gaylor Baird’s Office swiftly replied and forwarded the text of a sign-on letter to Congress that the mayor had signed.

The letter, facilitated by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, rightly urges Congress to take “whatever action is necessary and possible immediately” to provide permanent protection from deportation and a path to citizenship.

Nebraska Dreamers are Nebraskans and Americans in every sense of the word except paperwork. Nebraska Dreamers are our teachers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and most importantly, our family and neighbors. Financially, they have been estimated to contribute to our state’s GDP in the amount of $150 million every year, $9 million in social security taxes, $2 million in Medicare taxes. In return, they have faced fear and uncertainty for years and the frustrating situation of being in the only state that denies DACA recipients the unemployment benefits they’ve earned.

Congress has an opportunity to act, and we hope to see the rest of the Nebraska delegation follow Rep. Don Bacon’s lead in putting Dreamers’ lives before politics.

We also hope to see other city leaders soon follow Mayor Gaylor Baird by using their position to advocate for Dreamers.

The fact is Dreamers’ home is here. It’s far past time Congress makes this protection permanent, creates a path to citizenship, then gets to work on comprehensive immigration reform.

Provided letter text:

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Majority Leader
United States Senate 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Republican Leader
United States Senate 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Republican Leader
United States House of Representatives 

Dear Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader McCarthy:

Given the July 16 Texas U.S. District Court decision holding that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful, it is even more urgent than ever that Congress act quickly to provide permanent protection from deportation and a path to citizenship for all Dreamers – people who have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here. As Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, we write on behalf of all the nation’s mayors to urge you to take whatever action is necessary and possible immediately to accomplish this. We pledge to work with you in this effort to help you make this happen.

The United States Conference of Mayors has had strong policy supporting a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and extension of the DACA program for many years.  Our bipartisan organization has adopted this policy because it is the right thing to do – for Dreamers, for our communities, and for our country.

The cultural, economic, and social contributions of the more than 800,000 DACA recipients and their families to our cities cannot be overstated; particularly during a global pandemic where over 200,000 DACA recipients are working in essential roles, including 27,000 in health care positions. Each year, DACA recipients and their households pay $5.6 billion in federal taxes and $3.1 billion in state and local taxes on top of their payroll tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare. After taxes, DACA recipients and their households have a combined $24 billion in spending power to put back into their communities.

The time for Congress to act is now and America’s mayors stand ready to work with you to provide a path to citizenship for all Dreamers.

Cc:    All members of the 117th Congress