This summer’s decision by the Supreme Court to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and reject the Trump Administration’s 2017 attempt to rescind the program was a victory for Americans across the country.

Not only was it a monumental day for our nation’s nearly 700,000 DACA recipients who earned a respite from fear of deportation and separation from their families and homes, but it was also a major victory for businesses here in Colorado and for our larger national economy.

But with the November elections looming and the attacks on the DACA program continuing to ensue, the fight to protect DACA recipients is far from over. There is more work to be done.

Dick Carleton, Breckenridge Town Council member

Established in 2012, the DACA program awards deportation protections along with employment and education authorizations to young immigrants who came to the United States as children with their families.

Since coming to the U.S. as children, these young immigrants have become American in every way but on paper.

The DACA program has granted nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants, including 27,000 here in Colorado, the ability to build lives for themselves here in the only home they have ever truly known after submitting an application, undergoing a rigorous and thorough background check process, and paying fees.

As a business owner and councilmember, I’ve seen firsthand the positive contributions DACA recipients are making in our community.  I have personally watched as these kids have exceled in our schools, become the first in their families to go to college and return to enter the work force, work hard and make significant contributions here in Summit County.

Through my involvement in the Colorado Restaurant Association, I also recognize the incredible economic impact they have had and are having on our state. They are essential members of our communities.

Many DACA recipients are leaders, innovators and serve as critical economic multipliers. They’re building business and creating thousands of jobs that benefit all Coloradoans.

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Many DACA recipients are also filling key roles in a wide range of essential industries like tech, education, hospitality, agriculture and construction. In terms of hard numbers, Colorado’s DACA recipients contribute $527 million in annual spending to our economy and pay an estimated $59.1 million in annual state and local taxes and $113 million in annual federal taxes.

Ultimately, Colorado is fortunate that so many productive DACA recipients call our state home. We would all be lesser for their absence. But despite the court’s ruling, DACA recipients are not out of the woods. 

The Trump administration recently issued a Department of Homeland Security memo restricting the DACA renewal period from two years to one and barring new applicants, increasing the burden of applying to obtain DACA with the intention of winding down the program altogether in 2021. 

This would be devastating to DACA recipients, their families, and have ripple effects across our economy and in our communities. It would affect, for example, business owners like me who rely on their employment, patronage and the integral role they play in the supply chain I need.  

While locally we have organizations like Mountain Dreamers to provide support, only Congress can provide the solution DACA recipients need by passing permanent legislative protections —  like the ones included in the Dream and Promise Act, which passed the House of Representatives last year on a bipartisan and overwhelming basis.

This bill would finally bring closure to this issue and provide Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders with an earned pathway to permanent citizenship. The House has done its job; now it’s time for the Senate to finally end the fear and anxiety felt by so many Dreamers and those of us who care about and rely on them.

With the November election looming, I urge my fellow Coloradans to support candidates who are committed to taking a bipartisan approach to passing a Dreamer solution and keeping families and communities together.

This November is an opportunity to show our elected officials that we stand with our immigrant neighbors and prioritize their safety and future in the only home many of them have ever known.

In that spirit, I ask Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to stand with all Coloradans and work with their fellows on both sides of the aisle to get the Dream and Promise Act across the finish line.

This is a human issue and should not be treated as a political one.  A permanent solution that protects Dreamers is in the best interest of Colorado and our entire country. 

Dick Carleton has lived in Breckenridge for 40 yrs, raising his family and working in the restaurant industry. He has owned restaurants in the community for over 35 years. He is an active community member and has been serving on the Breckenridge Town Council since 2018.

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