Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown met Wednesday evening with local immigration advocates to discuss the impact of federal immigration policy. The meeting, part of a nationwide "Dreamer Dinners" campaign, comes as the future of the DACA program is increasingly uncertain.
The Obama-era executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has allowed thousands of young people who were brought to the U.S. as children to work legally and attend university.
Currently, a group of state attorney generals from across the country are pushing President Trump to end the program. As a candidate, Trump promised to “immediately terminate” DACA, but his administration says it will preserve the program for the time being.
Brown says DACA has been effective and ending it will hurt the economy in central Ohio.
“There are 4,500 DACA recipients in Ohio today who are able to live here legally, pay taxes, contribute to their communities, and it has a target on its back,” Brown says.
There are an additional 13,000 people who could be eligible for DACA status, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Brown has developed a legal defense fund for immigrants who could soon find themselves facing deportation, something she initially proposed in January.
"It's incumbent on us as local lawmakers, even when we can't change federal law, to understand what we can do to help immigrants and refugees in our community because our economy is at stake," she says.
Brown says the fund will be unveiled in mid-September.