Business Supports Dreamers For Good Reasons

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By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Next month the United States Supreme Court will hear a case that will have a profound impact on an estimated 2.1 million young people in America. Its decision will also have broad consequences for the health of the U.S. economy.

We are talking about a legal case that would block the Trump Administration’s efforts to deport Dreamers. The Court will decide whether or not Trump’s White House has the power to administratively kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or whether Congress and the courts have a say in its future.

Dreamers are the children of illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents. Many have known no other home. They attend our elementary schools, high schools, and colleges. They serve in the military. They are engineers, designers, welders, electricians, medical personnel, teachers, employed on farms, and fill many other jobs in our economy. They are our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. They have started businesses in rural America that make small towns more vibrant.

Those Dreamers have now gained influential allies in their fight to stay here and in their efforts to gain citizenship – America’s largest businesses and industries.

 “Best Buy, Target, Ecolab, Cargill, UnitedHealth Group and C.H. Robinson are among thousands of American companies signed on individually or through trade groups to a friend of the court brief filed earlier this month,” Jim Spencer of the Star Tribune writes. Their “brief strongly criticizes the Trump plan on economic grounds.”

“We know that there are Best Buy employees, customers and teens we support through our Teen Tech Centers who are Dreamers,” Best Buy spokesman Jeff Shelman told the Star Tribune. “We believe that finding a permanent solution to enable these young people to continue to live and work in the United States is the right thing to do.”

Target also voiced its strong support of Dreamers.

“We welcome people of all backgrounds to engage with our brand as team members or guests,” the company told the Tribune’s Spencer. “By embracing equal opportunities for all, we can better understand and serve our guests, connect to the communities we serve, and build a stronger team. Target is joining many other companies in asking Congress to pass legislation that provides a permanent solution for DACA recipients. We will also continue to offer resources and support to any of our Target team members who are seeking it.”

President Trump has vilified immigrants. He has told us that America is “full” and can’t accept any more immigrants. He wants to deport the 11 million Hispanic immigrants who though here illegally, are intricately woven into American culture, community, and business. In some cases, his efforts mean splitting up families – parents who are Dreamers now have children of their own who are American citizens.

Opponents of DACA say the program legitimizes the behavior of those who crossed into America illegally. The administration’s appeal to nationalistic, isolationist, and prejudicial tendencies among Trump’s supporters has created bitter divisions in the country over immigration.

America is by no means full. Rural America is, in fact, steadily losing population. That population loss is creating a labor shortage with short-term and long-term consequences.

Nowhere is the need for labor more critical than in rural America. Our labor force is aging out of employment and into retirement in ever more significant numbers. Our industries are struggling to find you people to fill those openings. They are making business expansion plans, and even future location plans, based on what they see today and in the coming decade if we can’t find a way to repopulate rural America.

While some may think that we should limit our immigration policies to only those with college degrees, that is not where we face our greatest shortage of employees. It is in industry and the trades where we face critical shortages. Agriculture needs immigrants.

“I believe firmly that immigration makes us stronger as a nation and represents the best of what we stand for,” Lee Hamilton wrote in his column last week. “This country is a defender of individual rights, a beacon of tolerance and equality, and a champion of the notion that offering opportunity to all who live here — regardless of national origin — yields the innovation and hard work that drive our economy and culture.”

Unfortunately, too many no longer believe Hamilton’s words.

In a column he wrote in 2017, conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote that immigrants “are appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future….” The immigrants show the same qualities that our grandfathers and grandmothers showed when they arrived in America, a quality that appears to be fading among succeeding generations.

America’s greatness comes from its immigrant heritage. To ensure future greatness, we need to embrace immigrants and the value they offer to our communities.

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