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Community Responds to Dismantling of DACA

Discontinuing rights for ‘Dreamers’ will affect many


September 08, 2017

Plans to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have resulted in a groundswell of activity and action in the Greater Seattle community. The program, which ensures that children brought to the U.S. without documentation can work and attend school without facing deportation, will end in six months or Congress has the option to take action.

Early estimates are that taking DACA away will affect approximately 800,000 teens and young adults across the country and more than 18,000 in Washington state. The challenges they will face without a legal pathway to education and jobs are considerable, underscoring the importance of ensuring greater equity and economic opportunity for all in our community. One key effort of Seattle Foundation to support marginalized communities, including immigrants, refugees and Dreamers, is our Resilience Fund, which funds organizations that are working to protect residents facing increased risks and uncertainty.

Statistics show that these young adults, who have registered with the government and submitted to extensive background checks, are contributing to communities and the economy. More than 97 percent are in school or the workforce.

Efforts to advocate for ‘Dreamers’ are widespread here. Washington State has a law called the Real Hope Act, which allows DACA-qualified students to receive state-funded financial aid for public universities.

Business leaders from some of America’s most prominent companies have signed an open letter expressing support for these young people and their continued eligibility to work and go to school under the program. Nationally those leaders include the heads of General Motors, Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Hewlett Packard, Twitter, Netflix, Kaiser Permanente, Marriott International, Uber, Visa and Wells Fargo. From our region, CEOs Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Kevin Johnson of Starbucks, Rob Glaser of Real Networks and Hans Bishop of Juno Therapeutics all signed on to the letter, which emphasized how dreamers are vital to the future of American companies and the economy.

Other local organizations and companies have taken a variety of approaches to support Dreamers. Microsoft pledged to pay for its DACA employees’ legal fees to fight deportation, with President Brad Smith calling Dreamers, “part of our nation’s fabric.”
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project will host a series of free workshops called “Options after DACA” with resources for Dreamers  including enhanced information and FAQs.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce pledged in a statement that DACA students at the university will continue to receive financial aid and will experience minimal disruptions. Seattle University president Stephen Sundborg pledged similar support for students there.

A number of Seattle Foundation grantees are focused on supporting these community residents’ needs now and in the coming months, including OneAmerica, 21 Progress, El Centro de la Raza, Latino Community Fund and Asian Counseling and Referral Services.

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