Print Edition - 2017-09-10  |  Free the Words

Why I’m resigning from Trump’s diversity coalition

- JAVIER PALOMAREZ

Sep 10, 2017-Right now in the United States there are some 800,000 law-abiding young people without proper immigration papers who nevertheless proudly call America home. Two days ago, President Trump sent them a clear message: They are not welcome here. With its decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected these “Dreamers” since 2012, the administration claims that it is merely insisting that Congress take responsibility for the program. That is a dodge, and a cowardly one. This cruel new policy is also a direct contradiction of the promise that Trump made to the Hispanic community only months ago.

In April, Trump assured these Dreamers that they could “rest easy.” These young people fully appreciated that they had been afforded a once-in-a-lifetime privilege: the chance to study and work in United States without the constant fear of deportation thanks to DACA, which gave them a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Now these Americans, all of whom were brought here through no fault of their own, can’t rest easy. Instead they will lie awake at night, wondering whether it will be their last one in America.

Many actions taken by this White House have profoundly rattled my confidence in its commitment to inclusivity and its respect for diversity. But today’s decision was worst of all. An American president who does not believe there’s a place for young people whose passion and values exemplify the best of our tradition is simply not a president that I can continue to support. That is why, as the president and chief executive of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I have chosen to resign from the President’s National Diversity Coalition, effective immediately.

Despite my vocal opposition to candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign, President-elect Trump and members of his transition team assured me that the voices of our members—the 4.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in America—would be heard inside this White House, particularly on key issues like immigration, infrastructure and tax reform. The incoming administration asked me to join the President’s National Diversity Coalition, which I did out of a sense of obligation to our members and service to the country I love.

It’s now clear that Trump’s assurances were a lie. The National Diversity Coalition never formally met—a stark sign of the president’s lack of interest in our work. Cabinet members and senior administration officials would hold off-the-record meetings with members of our association and solicit our advice, but it obviously never mattered to the president himself. No amount of sound advice is enough to keep Trump’s reckless and divisive impulses in check.

“Reckless” is exactly the word to describe today’s decision to end DACA—one so obviously at odds with the national interest. Under DACA, 65,000 individuals were graduating from high school and 10,000 from college each year. Those who were in, or eligible for, DACA were paying roughly $2 billion each year in state and local taxes. And the cost to the American taxpayer was minimal: The program had no uncompensated administrative costs, nor were recipients eligible for welfare benefits or subsidies of any kind under the Affordable Care Act. Deporting Dreamers, on the other hand, will cost the federal government $60 billion, along with an additional $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

If nothing else, Trump should have seen there was a political argument to preserving DACA, a program that has the approval of two-thirds of Americans and whose beneficiaries had received support across the aisle. A recent poll revealed that 78 percent of registered voters believed Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country, while 56 percent even supported eventual citizenship.

Over the past month, many corporate leaders have fled the councils and coalitions Trump assembled at the beginning of his administration. I am proud to join them. While I will never cease advocating for policies that benefit America’s Hispanic-owned businesses, the moral costs of associating with this White House are simply too high. There is no place for a National Diversity Coalition in an administration that by its word and deed does not value diversity at all.

- Javier Palomarez (@JPalomarez) is the president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest Hispanic business association

—©2017 The New York Times

Published: 10-09-2017 08:25

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