Column: Protect immigrants, DACA

Martin Manna

In June, leaders from all across the country joined together to celebrate Immigration Heritage month. As a nation of immigrants, we joined together to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions immigrants and their children have made in shaping the history, strengthening the economy and enriching the culture of the United States. Now Democrats and Republicans must join with President Donald Trump to protect those immigrants who are currently here working to make our country stronger and better than ever.

As Trump has mentioned, immigrants play a very substantial role in driving our economy, starting more than one-fourth of all new businesses in the U.S. Additionally, immigrants or their children started more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and between 2006 and 2012, 44 percent of new technology start-ups in Silicon Valley (widely known as the international hub for technological development and innovation) had at least one immigrant founder.

During that same time frame, there were 30,223 new immigrant business owners in Michigan who had total net business income of $1.8 billion (9.2 percent of all net business income in the state) according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California.

Furthermore, more than 60 percent of Chaldean Americans in southeast Michigan own at least one business, and nearly 40 percent own two or more. In total, Chaldean Americans contribute more than $10.7 billion annually to the economy in southeast Michigan alone.

Despite all of the hard work, dedication and patriotism today’s immigrants have displayed, efforts in Washington, D.C., to protect programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the over 800,000 Dreamers (6,430 in Michigan) have been stalled and place them in immediate risk of deportation. Currently Dreamers in Michigan pay over $16 million a year in state and local taxes. By removing these Dreamers from the workforce, Michigan would stand to lose over $389,458,100 in GDP every year!

We all agree that immigrants must pass a stringent background check, remain in good legal standing and meet certain educational requirements in order to remain in our country. When these Dreamers do meet these criteria, efforts to deprive them of the ability to work and threats of deportation are just not right. In fact, the thought of deporting Chaldeans back to the Middle East where they risk being killed for their religious beliefs is unAmerican and goes against the principals our country was founded on.

Recently, Trump announced a potential agreement that would both secure the border and protect the over 6,000 Dreamers here in Michigan. We need to encourage our Michigan congressional delegation to join Trump’s plan to secure the border and protect these Dreamers by passing a long-term bipartisan legislative solution.

By working together, we can build on the foundation of our forefathers and make America a stronger, more prosperous nation.

Martin Manna is president of the of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce.