The following article is an opinion piece and reflects only the views of the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.

By: Charles Kuck

This year has certainly opened the door to new challenges. Here in Georgia and in states across the country, community and business leaders, as well as elected officials at all levels, are focused on resolving the impending public health and economic crisis.

As we all grapple with the uncertainty posed by the coronavirus pandemic, millions in the immigrant community are facing unprecedented hostility and additional barriers to critical resources needed to address this crisis.

Most recently, the Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled against the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) program and authorized President Trump to deport nearly 400,000 TPS holders, many of whom live in Georgia, separating them from their families and making economic contributions to the we urgently need.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has worked tirelessly to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And while his first three-year attempt was rejected in June of this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily allowed states to continue benefiting from DACA recipients’ contributions and continue the program’s work and study permits, the president has made his efforts continued to end the program despite the majority of Trump voters in favor of protecting Dreamers.

There are 21,000 DACA recipients in Georgia, of which around 5,600 are a key workforce in the fight against the coronavirus. In addition, 96 percent of DACA recipients across the country are either employed or schooled, and they contribute billions of dollars in local, state, and federal taxes each year. Here in Georgia, DACA recipients contribute an estimated $ 78 million in state and local taxes and an estimated $ 105.8 million in annual federal taxes.

The president announced that he will renew attempts to terminate the program and take steps to wind the program by 2021, with immediate plans to reject applications and limit extensions to one year. But it doesn’t stop there. He also released a memo to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census, a move that could jeopardize representation of states in Congress, and proposed, among other things, banning international students from entering the US to attend our universities where only online courses are offered harmful policies.

As a nation of hope and opportunity, these threats of immigration go against our core values. Georgia has maintained a business environment that drives growth and innovation for decades, and has earned its spot as the top state for doing business for the sixth consecutive year. And while threatened by the pandemic, a critical part of our past and future success has been developing a resilient workforce and involving immigrants in our communities and economies.

It is time for Congress to act by enacting immigration-friendly reform, including permanent protections for dreamers and TPS holders through laws like the American Dream and Promise Act, and for Georgians to elect lawmakers who are our best interests and those of our immigrant neighbors have in mind as they go hand in hand.

The chaos, dysfunction, and disorder of our nation’s immigration system is putting all of our communities and workers at risk. We must create a system that strengthens our immigrant community and their contribution to agriculture, health, sanitation, construction, education and beyond. Our entire federal state will benefit from this later. It is time to put politics aside and move forward.

Charles Kuck is the founder and managing partner of Kuck Baxter Immigration and oversees immigration practices around the world. Mr. Kuck assists international immigrant investors, employers and employees with business and professional visas, employment certificates, immigrant visas, consular representation and citizenship matters. Mr. Kuck also maintains an active federal judicial practice that focuses on immigration issues. He has represented asylum seekers and others in more than 700 proceedings before the immigration courts.

AllOnGeorgia

AllOnGeorgia