Fatima, one of Kara’s campaign staffers and a DREAMer, speaks at a DACA rally.
There are thousands of children in our country who have been separated from their parents at the border, taken to warehouses and internment camps, and put into small, fenced cells without any idea when, or if, they will see their parents again.
This is despicable. The separation of children from parents and the denial of due process is not consistent with the values of our nation. We must remember that seeking asylum is not illegal. Many of these immigrants are attempting to escape gang violence, government oppression, or danger in their own countries. These families are being denied the opportunity to apply for asylum before being prosecuted at our borders.
Last week’s Executive Order did little to solve this problem. There are no clear solutions for the treatment of children already in custody, and no information on how or when the government intends to reunite these families.
Immigration reform is essential, but the inhumane immigration policy adopted by this administration is not the answer.
I believe that immigration reform should be achieved through clear and accessible pathways to citizenship and bipartisan budget solutions for border security. We have to streamline our legal immigration process to provide for quick, humanitarian treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and open the doors for immigrants seeking a better life.
Similar to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, we can offer renewable work visas for low-skilled workers and then update quotas annually to meet market demand. We can create youth jobs programs, provide waivers for seasonal workers, and work with immigrants on their path to citizenship so they can work and contribute to our country, rather than terrifying them into hiding.
We need to pass a permanent, clean DREAM Act with a pathway to citizenship that makes it possible for children to stay in the country they know as home.
A study conducted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha estimated that if immigrants were to be taken out of key sectors, there would be a loss of approximately $11.4 billion from our economy.
DACA recipients contribute $7.7 million in tax revenue to Nebraska. These DREAMers are college and high school students with aspirations of becoming doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, and engineers – jobs that are in desperate need of staffing.
Omaha has a large immigrant population. They are our neighbors. They are needed and valued members of our community.
Ultimately, immigration reform needs to happen, and it needs to happen quickly. It needs to be done with compassion, and with the values and morals that make America great.