CEO Bill Lucia took the podium as the first speaker in a high-profile discussion on Dreamers and DACA legislation sponsored by the American Business Immigration Coalition.
Held at the Dallas Regional Chamber on Nov. 21, the event dubbed “Moving Forward Commonsense Dream Legislation” featured viewpoints from both the government and business worlds. Speakers included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and IBC Bank Senior Vice President Eddie Aldrete.
The Dreamer Dilemma
The discussion centered around the urgent need for a legislative solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the program, Dreamers were able to apply to defer deportation and legally reside in the U.S. for two years. After that, they could apply for renewal.
The current administration suspended DACA applications and renewals in September and October respectively. Congress has until March 5, 2018, to come up with a solution. There are about 790,000 young adults currently protected under the DACA program.
In his remarks, Lucia approached the issue from both a “head and heart” perspective.
From the Head: The Economic Impact of Dreamers
Speaking from the “head,” Lucia pointed out that with so many major corporate headquarters in the DFW area, there is fierce competition for talent, and Dreamers are an important part of our local talent pool.
“To lose these hard-working and motivated people would be a true economic loss,” he said. “A DACA phase-out would result in $433 billion in lost economic growth and cost employers more than $6 billion in employee turnover costs. Texas, home to 142,000 Dreamers, would lose $6.1 billion in annual GDP.”
From the Heart: Keeping Families Together
Drawing on his roots as a grandson of Italian immigrants—whom he also called “dreamers”—Lucia emphasized the importance of strong families and the need to keep them intact. “Breaking up families is both the wrong thing to do and runs counter to the values we cherish as Americans.”
He reiterated his theme in his final thoughts, saying: “We need a creative solution that addresses both the practical and ethical aspects of determining the future for Dreamers in our country. We have to move forward with both head and heart.”
The time is now to contact and encourage your elected officials in Congress to pass legislation supporting Dreamers.
Additional coverage of the event is available:
The Dallas Morning News
Path to citizenship right for Dreamers and the economy, Texas business leaders say