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Another Voice: Call on Greg Walden to support Dream Act of 2017

The thing that scared many folks in our community the most about a Trump presidency has happened.

He repealed DACA, the protection offered by the federal government to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has strict requirements, including a full background check and regular, costly renewals. It allowed my students a chance to get a driver’s license and to work legally. It was intended to protect them from deportation, but nowadays, no American can assume she is safe from being detained, questioned, wrongly arrested, or wrongly deported. This is the era of Trump. Sad!

But there is hope, and Hood River, you can help these Dreamers. We need Rep. Greg Walden to support one of the bi-partisan bills in the House that could replace DACA; we need him to support HR 1084, “The Dream Act of 2017.” This bill echoes DACA’s strict requirements, with a few minor revisions: it applies to children who were brought to the U.S. before age 18; residency of four-plus years is required; and it offers a chance to apply for “conditional permanent status.” If you go to college, work, pay your taxes, and do not break the law, you can earn a green card, and eventually, permanent lawful status.

If you don’t have a heart, do it for your wallet. DACA holders paid $2 billion in taxes in 2016; if they were full citizens, they’d have paid $2.5 billion. Without DACA, they’d have paid $1.2 billion (Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, itep.org). These kids are an excellent investment.

Many students at the high school have felt very scared since last year’s election. Some feared that people who used to be quietly racist would feel emboldened to be openly and violently racist. Check. Some feared that their family would be split apart. Check. Some feared that DACA would be rescinded. Check.

I’ve had many of these kids in class over the past two decades. They have been our valedictorians, ASB presidents, yearbook editors, soccer team captains, and homecoming royalty. They work HARD. They stay out of trouble because they have to — their DACA status is so valuable to them. They come from loving families who work in our community, pay taxes, own houses, and devote their lives to supporting their kids. Our kids. Our kids need us to speak up for them, now.

There is no good reason for Oregon’s District 2 representative not to join the bi-partisan support for legal protections for Dreamers. Please let Greg Walden know that he needs to get on board and support The Dream Act of 2017, HR 1084. This affects over 11,000 Oregonians directly, and all of us indirectly. Walden claims that he feels “compassion” for Oregon’s 11,000 Dreamers; ask him to show it in his actions in Congress: ask him to support The Dream Act. Finally.

Nan Noteboom lives in Odell, and teaches English at Hood River Valley High School.

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