PHOENIX — Tens of thousands of young immigrants living in Arizona illegally would be able to apply for permanent legal status under a bill recently introduced in Congress.
The Dream and Promise Act would create a path to legalization and ultimately citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who qualify for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.
“We found that there are about 63,000 Dreamers who would be eligible for protection under this bill in the state of Arizona and that on average they came here when they were about 7 years old,” said Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, pointing to an analysis by her group.
She added about 209,000 Dreamers in Arizona live in mixed-status families meaning at least one family member is a U.S. citizen.
The analysis also looked at the economic impact of Dreamers in Arizona. It found every year they contribute about $285 million in federal taxes and nearly $181 million in state and local taxes. Their spending power is also estimated at about $1.5 billion per year.
Svajlenka said those numbers would likely increase if the Dream and Promise Act is approved.
To be eligible for the Dream and Promise Act, dreamers must have lived in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment date. They must also complete education requirements, pass a background check and have been under 18 years old when they arrived in the U.S..
The bill was introduced in Congress earlier this month. Democratic U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona, who co-sponsored the bill, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that he hopes Republicans join Democrats in supporting the legislation.
“Let’s do the right thing by these young people that we need in the United State of America,” Stanton said.
“It’s not just right for those young people that would benefit … it would also benefit us economically.”