AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas could lose more than 120,000 legal workers if lawmakers don’t continue an immigration status known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Tech leaders and the Texas Association of Business are urging Congress to continue the program.
Most Texas lawmakers in Washington, D.C. support continuing the DACA program, but it’s caught in larger negotiations due Jan. 19. President Trump says he won’t extend DACA without tougher border security measures, including a border wall.
Austin is known as a hub for big tech companies. Apple, Dell, Google, and Facebook, to name a few, already have major operations in Central Texas. City leaders are also openly pitching to Amazon, hoping the tech giant brings their second headquarters here with 50,000 jobs.
In order to stay here legally under the DACA program, Vanessa Rodriguez has to pursue a higher education or work. She’s nervous. “I think it would create some chaos,” said Rodriguez.
Her parents moved to Elgin with her illegally when she was six. She now works at Austin’s City Hall while attending UT Austin and is in trouble if DACA ends.
“Technically not be able to work, not be able to pay for school,” said Rodriguez.
Tech leaders, including the founders of Facebook and Microsoft, created FWD.us to urge Congress to continue DACA.
“With DACA, dreamers have contributed their talents and skills to the American workforce, powering our economy and strengthening our middle class through their economic contributions. They work in every industry and at nearly every single major company in America,” communications director for FWD.us, Peter Boogaard, wrote KXAN.
The largest business group in the state echoes the sentiment.
“So our taxpayers have invested in these workers to contribute to our economy and our society,” said A.J. Rodriguez, the new chair of the Texas Association of Business.
He says Texas jobs of the future will need high-skilled, educated workforce. “In Austin there are several Fortune 500 companies that employ DACA recipients. So that will be a disruption. It will be a disruption from the market standpoint. It will be a disruption in their business plans,” said Rodriguez.
That disruption that could come next week.