"Hardworking" and "here to help": Why communities need "dreamers"

June 21, 2018

As a paramedic in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, Jesus Contreras was on the front lines helping people in his community for six straight days. But upon returning home from the devastation, he learned that he could face deportation to Mexico with the announced end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Under DACA, which courts have since blocked from rescission, people like Contreras who arrived illegally in the United States as children can remain in the country without fear of deportation. Nearly a year after the storm, Contreras is one of nearly 800,000 “dreamers” still fighting to get on a pathway to citizenship.

“It was just very mind-boggling how somebody who’s given a lot to their community could be taken away from it,” Contreras said.

DACA recipients are “hardworking people,” Contreras said. “We are people of faith, people with family values, people that are here to help the communities and help this country.”

There has been bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill, but no legislative solution yet. Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love says that her district wants action on the issue.

“I believe that we’ve hit a really good sweet spot in terms of creating a pathway so that there are people that can work and earn the privilege of being a U.S. citizen,” Love said.

Koch Industries has long advocated for a permanent, sustainable solution for those who would be affected by any decision to end the program. Resolving the matter “is a political, economic and moral imperative,” Chairman and CEO Charles Koch wrote in a Washington Post op-ed with Apple CEO Tim Cook last December.

“No society can truly flourish when a significant portion of its people feel threatened or unable to fulfill their potential,” Koch and Cook said. “Nor can it prosper by excluding those who want to make positive contributions. This isn’t just a noble principle; it’s a basic fact, borne out through our national history.”

This story originally appeared as a Freedom to Flourish segment, sponsored by Koch Industries, on Hill.TV’s Rising with Krystal & Buck.