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"My parents did the best for me": DACA recipient shares story, reacts to Dream Act

1 month 2 weeks 1 day ago Friday, April 02 2021 Apr 2, 2021 April 02, 2021 4:39 PM April 02, 2021 in News - Local

The United States of American is the only county State Director for the Texas Business Immigration Coalition Juan Carlos Cerda has ever known.

Although he said he had no say in coming to the U.S. he knows his parents did their best for him. 

In school, Cerda said he was left out of many extracurricular programs due to his immigration status. As a straight A student, he says he felt disillusioned.

When he was finally allowed in those spaces he was faced with another challenge. 

"Not having the ability to legally work," Cerda said. "I didn't know if I was going to have the ability to put my education to work."

Also Read: House passes immigration bills to provide farmworkers and Dreamers a path to citizenship

When he became a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient, he says he overcame those hurdles. 

A recent study released by the Texans for Economic Growth and the Texas Opportunity Coalition showed DACA recipients may be adding to the nation's economic resources. 

Chelsie Kramer with the New American Economy, a nonprofit immigration research and advocacy organization, says over 14,000 Dreamers in the city of McAllen are contributing to "hundreds of millions of dollars" into the economy.

"Their spending power being over $140M annually," Kramer said. "And of course, they're paying over 40M in federal and state taxes."

For Cerda, it's not all about money, he says it's about the love he has for the only county he's ever called home. 

"We don't present any harm," Cerda said. "We just want opportunity, like any other American."

The first version of the Dream Act was introduced 20 years ago. According to the American Immigration Council, since 2001 at least 11 versions of the bill have been introduced in Congress. None have become law, leaving Dreamers in limbo. 

The House passed the American Dream and Promise Act in March, but both bills still need at least ten yes votes from Republican senators to go further. 

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