By La June Montgomery Tabron
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Today, some 22 years after Nelson Mandela spoke those words, the administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program tears at the very fabric of our country and inflicts fear and chaos in thousands of children and young adults across the country.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is committed to ensuring all our children, especially those coming from the most disadvantaged situations, have the supports they need to thrive. That includes immigrant children who were brought to the United States with their parents, and as young adults contribute to their communities and to our economic, civic and social vibrancy.
DACA protects about 800,000 registered immigrant children and young adults – who also are called Dreamers and have undergone extensive government background checks – from deportation and enables them to go to school and work.
The decision to terminate the program, effective in six months unless Congress intervenes, creates uncertainty, fear and chaos for a generation of children who were brought here by their parents and call the United States home.
In the five years since DACA was approved, 97 percent of Dreamers are in college or are part of our working class; they are expected to contribute an estimated $460 billion to our tax base over the next decade, as well as $24.6 billion to Social Security and Medicare. They are home buyers in communities far and near, small business owners in our neighborhoods and they serve with pride in our military defending the very country that now will not defend them.
Many of the Dreamers’ stories and contributions have been shared widely over the past few days, such as fellow Michigander Bartosz “Bart” Kumor, who came to this country from Poland at the age of 10.
Bart’s mother sent him (on a visitor’s visa) to live with his uncle. In 1994, Bart obtained a student visa and began to attend school. Bart obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Wayne State Law School.
Today, he is a manager at Michigan United, a statewide non-profit organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity and potential of every person and ensuring racial and economic justice.
And Yoojin Kim, a 24-year-old Dreamer from the same Queens borough where President Trump grew up. She and her mother had fled South Korea when she was eight years old. Today, Kim is the Social Services Director at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, and assists community members with access to financial benefits and oversees the Social Services program. Kim received her B.A. in political science and English from University of Michigan.
Dreamers come from every corner of our country and from every sector, from local and state government to Silicon Valley and Wall Street. We hope our leaders hear this clarion call and respond with policies that reflect our country’s values.
Deporting Dreamers goes against our country’s founding principles and it weakens our economy. Our children – including our immigrant children – are the soul of the United States and the Kellogg Foundation is committed to building an inclusive country where every child is valued and we stand ready to work with our leaders to protect immigrant children and protect our country’s values and future.
La June Montgomery Tabron is president & CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
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