Author: Paul J. Luna, Helios Education FoundationNovember 22, 2019
Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Essentially, DACA provides more than 700,000 undocumented individuals with relief from deportation because they came to the U.S. as children. The DACA program was enacted in 2012 and is currently being challenged through the court system. Whatever the Supreme Court decides, it will have a significant impact on the lives of individuals who are living, working, and contributing to our communities.
Many of the DACA recipients are students – currently in school pursuing degrees and courses of study that will help enhance our workforce and strengthen our economy. And some are already working every day to make our community stronger. I recently learned that there are an estimated 20,000 teachers across the country who are undocumented but working legally under the DACA program, filling a tremendous need in a shortage area for many school systems; many are bilingual and have graduated from top universities. Since they share similar backgrounds with many students, these teachers also have a deep impact as role models. Quite simply, we need every qualified, available, and committed teacher we have. If teachers who are in classrooms today under DACA are unable to teach, students in classrooms across the country will suffer.
Through DACA, hundreds of thousands of people’s lives were changed. Recipients have been given opportunities to attend and graduate college, obtain gainful employment and become tax-payers, and work in a variety of areas to improve their communities. In Arizona and Florida, there are more than 50,000 DACA recipients living in both states, the majority of those recipients arrived between the ages of 6 and 8. Their Federal and state tax contribution is $491 million, and their combined spending power is more than $1.5 billion.
The impact of this decision will be felt across all areas of life. It will impact our economy, our education systems, and more importantly, it will impact the morale of those communities most impacted by the decision, many of whom comprise the populations served by Helios Education Foundation. We appreciate and support those organizations who have stood in support of DACA recipients and are hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of keeping this program which has allowed young people brought to the United States as children to become a more integral part of our communities.