Many Americans share an interest in their immigrant history. Some of our ancestors had “forced migration” due to slavery or other dire economic and political conditions. Political organizing and action that strives for the common good by everyday citizens has improved conditions for many. Many of us value living in a country that strives to give people a fair shot at succeeding, especially our youth, yet realize there is much more to be done.

It is estimated that today 11 million undocumented immigrants are living under threat of deportation without any pathway to citizenship in our country. Immigration reform issues are complex, and have stymied many politicians seeking bi-partisan policy solutions. The current vulnerability and fear facing immigrant youth and their families over massive deportation threats is an example of mean-spirited policy changes that weaken our collective moral standing in the world community.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was begun in 2012 as a way for young, undocumented immigrants to legally apply to work, obtain a driver’s license, pay taxes, continue their education and live free from fear of deportation as long as they stayed out of trouble. Personal family tax and address information was shared with the government in this application. DACA basically grants prosecutorial discretion over deportation of immigrants for a two-year period, then another application and fee must be submitted.

Recently, I attended a rally in Janesville that included immigrant justice activists from four other states, plus many from Wisconsin. Most of the people attending were under 30. Many youth self-identified as students or workers. Their stories were painful, unsettling, and yet inspirational. They spoke of their fears, challenges, and dreams. They are part of the 800,000 Asian, Latino, and other immigrant youth being threatened with deportation if DACA is not protected. They are fighting for their part of the American Dream. They need us today as allies.

Currently there are 10 anti-immigrant states that have given President Trump until Sept. 5 to repeal DACA or be sued despite the fact that all previous constitutional challenges to DACA having failed. At a televised CNN Town Hall meeting on Jan. 13, our Congressman Paul Ryan, told a DACA student to not worry about deportation forces coming. Our current President had campaigned saying he would end DACA. Last week the Washington Post reported that Elaine Duke, the acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, Thomas Homan, the director of lmmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other top officials are reviewing the status of DACA.

Tuesday, Sept. 5, is “DACA Decision Day,” where President Trump is to declare his decision. It could come sooner.

FWD.us is a group working to mobilize the tech industry to promote policies that keep the U.S. competitive in a global environment by fixing a broken immigration system and reforming our criminal justice system. According to FWD.us, 78 percent of Republicans polled support continuing the DACA program. DACA helps to grow a stronger economy. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and the House Hispanic Caucus, have estimated there will be $460 billion dollars lost to our gross national product over the next 10 years if the 680,000 current workers are deported. FWD.us polling maintains there is strong bi-partisan agreement to renew DACA because it is the right thing to do.

Today we need our 1st District congressman and House Speaker Paul Ryan to leverage his considerable leadership to influence the president to not eliminate or reverse DACA through executive order. Many of us have visited or phoned Ryan’s office, but have not heard any recent public comment from him supporting the DACA program.

Now is the time, Congressman Paul Ryan. Help us defend DACA today. Issue a loud, clear public message of support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals before it is too late.

Diane Lange was a City of Racine alderwoman from 1978-80 and served as a Racine County Board supervisor for 14 years. She is a member of Voces De La Frontera and the Racine Interfaith Coalition’s Immigrant Rights Task Force.

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