Our immigration system is fraught with flaws. It hinders our ability to harness the potential of our people, handicaps us in the global marketplace of the future, and unjustly punishes childhood arrivals with the looming threat of deportation to countries they left behind as children because of their parents.
We are in desperate need of reform, and President Trump's announcement Tuesday, allowing DACA to lapse in six months, is a call to arms for Congress to do their job and codify the status of Dreamers.
Five years ago, President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a direct result of Democrats and Republicans failing to come together on immigration reform.
Our elected officials have continually failed to recognize the contributions immigrants make to our economy. Their inability to reconcile the need for enhanced border security with the pressing priority of addressing the status of those here without documentation, including the Dreamers, has put 800,000 of America's best and brightest in an incredibly precarious position. About 40,000 of those individuals live in my home state of Florida.
They are my neighbors, friends, colleagues, and classmates. They contribute an estimated $2 billion annually in state and local taxes. They have a 91 percent employment rate, flourishing careers in our armed forces, leading places in civil society and institutions of higher education.
Many in Congress have fought for legislation which would put an end to the uncertainty and worry for the many thousands protected under DACA. With Tuesday's announcement, the administration has put the ball firmly in Congress' hands—and we must cheer for them as hard as we will our college football teams while they carry it forward.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., introduced the RAC Act earlier this year, which would provide sound legal footing and a structured path to permanent residency for those Dreamers who maintain a clean criminal record, avoid reliance on public assistance, pay back taxes with interest, and demonstrate continued employment, educational records, or proof of ongoing service or an honorable discharge.
Another effort is that of Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who will be pushing his conference to settle the issue by passing the BRIDGE Act, which would codify the protections afforded under DACA and has a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other leading figures in Congress have spoken in support of the program, publicly urging Trump to continue DACA, and it appears the president heard them. The president has given Congress six months to act. Congress now has the opportunity to heed the advice of leaders of industry, community activists and families across the country who want to protect the young people who represent the future of our economy and our country.
It's time for Congress to show real leadership -- It's time to fix our immigration system.
Steven Cruz (@StevenCruz) is a Republican operative and commentator.
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