Legislature Supports DACA


MARCH 12, 2018

The Jackson County Legislature declared its commitment to ensure all residents, “can live and pursue their livelihoods in peace and prosperity,” by passing a resolution supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program March 5, 2018.

According to the resolution, the Legislature, “proclaims its commitment and support of young people known as Dreamers, and asks Congress to enact a permanent solution for undocumented youth, giving all persons an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Legislator Crystal Williams, 2nd District At-Large, said, “I am honored to bring forth this resolution and am proud that members of the legislature support our Jackson County DREAMers; young people who, along with their families, contribute so much to our community.”

The county’s resolution states that, “this group of young people, commonly known as Dreamers, voluntarily gave the federal government their personal information in good faith so that they could become productive members of our community and workforce. In registering for the DACA program, Dreamers met strict age, residency, and educational criteria and do not pose a threat to public safety. Dreamers now find themselves vulnerable to aggressive government raids, detention centers, and life-altering deportations.”

The DACA program, created by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors to receive deferred action from deportation and eligibility for work permits. The deferments are infinite and are renewable for two-year periods. President Donald Trump ordered that the program end on March 5 and the administration stopped taking new applications. Two judges have since ordered the administration to accept renewals again. The case is will now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California and eventually to the Supreme Court.

Dr. Clara Irazabal, Director of Latinx and the Latin American Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, John Fierro, President/CEO of Mattie Rhodes Center and Greg Valdovino, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Director of Diversity and Inclusion presented information in favor of the resolution.

“The U.S. has already invested many years, sometimes well over two decades, funding the education and health of the recipients as they were children,” Dr. Irazabal said. “It is in the best interest of any country to invest in the education and health of its children so that they can become productive adults. DACA recipients are now all productive adults. They are well educated and at the peak of their lives health and creativity. Are we now going to be sending back to countries which they do not know precisely when they are starting their extremely promising careers in the U.S.? The country needs to recover a good return on its investment on their education and care. It would be economically foolish to waste that investment.”

Fierro asked for support of a resolution which would push Congress to pass the Dream Act and give permanent protection to undocumented migrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. “As Congress continues to work on a legislative alternative that the President will support almost 800,000 people’s daily lives are in turmoil. Mattie Rhodes Center has been serving the Mexican and Hispanic speaking population of our county for over 35 years. Our staff and I have witnessed first-hand families that are in fear of being apprehended at church, in schools and at community centers. Families and individuals are avoiding asking for help from the police or getting medical care and food assistance for their children. Also we have seen reported increases among our participants of stress, anxiety and depression.”

According to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, 6,439 Missourians are currently eligible for DACA and 91.2 percent of those are employed, contributing $6.6 million in state and local taxes and $11.1 million in federal taxes.

“The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce recognizes the impact of Dreamers and the entire foreign born workforce have made to our region. Immigrants in the Kansas City area are likely to be of working age, 82 percent, compared to 60 percent of U.S. born. Immigrants are more likely to start businesses and to be entrepreneurs than U.S. born members in our community,” Valdovino said. “It is imperative the positive legislation is passed to allow Dreamers to contribute to our local and national economy. KC Chamber members have a difficult time finding talent needed for Kansas City to compete in the global market economy. These young Americans can help with that. Thank you for recognizing the contributions of these young Americans and we urge you to pass positive legislation to allow these young Americans to stay in the United States.”

The resolution was approved 7-0 with Theresa Galvin and Denny Waits absent.