The immigration debate in our country can often be polarized. And certain state leaders have really turned up the heat lately. When politicians’ rhetoric becomes heated, it’s important that we take the time to think for ourselves. So I did my own research on South Dakota’s immigrant population.
Did you know that 26% of immigrants living in our state have a college degree or higher? That’s almost the same as the 29% of native-born South Dakotans with the same education. And, when it comes to high school diplomas, we’re exactly the same: 31% of people born in South Dakota have high school diplomas and 31% of immigrants do, too. Immigrants in South Dakota also contribute more than $100 million in taxes every year.
I also learned that June marked the 9th anniversary of the creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has allowed immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay. Nine years later, Congress still has not done its duty and made the program permanent. The hundreds of thousands of immigrants it protects could be forced to leave if the program is ended by a federal judge in a pending case. Only legislation can protect DACA recipients. Congress should use the anniversary to pass the Dream Act, which would provide the protection they need.
The fact is — Sen. John Thune and Sen. Mike Rounds can and should lead the way in making the Dream Act a reality.