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DREAM Act immigrants' future uncertain

The arrival of the new presidential administration has caused uncertainty for immigrants living in this country and proposed changes to US immigration law. It has also added ambiguity to the legal status of the Dreamers, 750,000 immigrants who received work permits and temporary residency under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which commenced in 2012.

There are now 72,000 Dreamers in Florida. Work permits and residency was granted to 750,000 immigrants across the country under DACA.

President Trump has sent mixed signals. He campaigned on ending DACA. After the election, however, he expressed sympathy for their uncertain status, which could be worked out and that the Dreamers. He noted that they came to this country when they were very young, were educated here, and were good workers.

His press spokesperson did not provide further clarification in a recent press conference. Although illegal immigrants with criminal records were the Administration's priority, Press Secretary Sean Spicer also warned that all illegal immigration will also be addressed.

A bipartisan bill, the Ban Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow our Economy Act, was introduced in both houses of Congress to protect Dreamers until immigration reform is passed. In the meantime, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is still to accepting and processing DACA requests.

DACA has boosted the national economy, according to some reports. This work authorization has raised a workers' household income by an average 10 percent, according to the non-Partisan Immigration Policy Institute.

The progressive Center for American Progress reported that Florida, along with other states with large Dreamer populations, could lose over $1 billion in GDP each year if DACA is ended. Economic growth would also decline by $433 billion across the country over 10 years.

Ending DACA could cause turnover and hiring expenses from hundreds of thousands of employees losing their jobs which would cost employers at least $3.4 billion, according to the Immigration Legal Resource Center. Employers would most likely half to pay half of the $24.6 billion in lost social security and Medicare tax contributions from Dreamers.

Dreamers are facing an uncertain and changing situation. An attorney can help protect the rights of an immigrant seeking to stay in this country or seeking citizenship.

Source: Fortune, "Trump's first days keep Dreamers in immigration limbo," By Erika Fry, Jan. 25, 2017

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