For many Americans, December and the holiday season is a time of waiting with great anticipation to see our loved ones. But for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers—young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children—the anticipation is focused on whether Congress will finally pass a legislative solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and give them the certainty needed to remain in the only country they have ever known.
I am an immigrant myself and became a naturalized American citizen in 2009. The entrepreneurial spirit that generations of immigrants bring has been the lifeblood of the American economy, and I see this same spirit in our nation's DACA recipients. After receiving DACA, 69 percent of recipients were able to move to a job with better pay; 54 percent purchased their first car; and 16 percent purchased their first home.
As we have invested in DACA recipients through the schools and opportunities available in the U.S., they are in turn investing in our country.
At Molex's corporate headquarters in Lisle—the hub of our company's 45,000 employees from 40 countries—we rely on the best and brightest employees in order to be a cutting-edge manufacturer of electronic, electrical and fiber-optic interconnection systems. I am fortunate to have DACA recipients on my team who fuel creativity and drive innovation. Likewise, CEOs both in Illinois and across the country count on their best and brightest DACA recipient employees every day to keep their companies running.
But without a legislative solution for the Dreamers, these young people, who have known no other home except the U.S., would face uncertainty and possible deportation to a country that is unfamiliar to them. Not only that, but we will lose them as consumers and workforce members—costing our state $2.3 billion in the next decade and our country $433.1 billion in lost GDP.
As a CEO, I can tell you that losing an excellent employee is costly—not only in terms of hiring and training someone new, but in terms of the professional development, knowledge and relationships that an employee can only build after investing time in a company.
This holiday season, I am urging Congress to honor that investment and good faith by passing sensible legislation before it's too late and give DACA recipients, their families, communities and employers peace of mind and certainty that DACA employees can continue to work and invest in our country. It is the economically smart thing to do, and it is the right thing to do for all of us.
Martin P. Slark is CEO of Molex, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, and a co-chair of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition.
Article originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business on December 22, 2017.