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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert was among 11 governors who urged Congress Wednesday to develop a bipartisan solution to allow "Dreamers" to remain in the United States and "continue their constructive contributions to our society."
The letter, signed by Republican, Democratic and independent governors, urges congressional leaders to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allows them to work legally in the United States.
"We must ensure a bright future for America's dreamers. Today I'm happy to join with fellow governors from across the nation — and both sides of the aisle — in support of #DACA recipients," Herbert posted on Twitter.
The letter calls on House and Senate leaders, as they cherish time with friends and family during the holiday season, to "remember the nearly 800,000 young people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as 'Dreamers' living in our states." An estimated 10,500 Dreamers live in Utah, advocates say.
The letter notes that more than 12,000 Dreamers have lost their protective status and are susceptible to deportation.
"This is not theoretical peril, but in fact, an immediate and urgent one, because more than 100 young people in our cities are losing their protective status every day. Those numbers will accelerate dramatically without a legislative fix," the letter states.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Obama-era program, calling it an “amnesty-first approach.” The president called on Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections. DACA recipients could be subject to deportation as early as March.
"We stand by these young Americans not only because it is good for our communities and a strong 21st-century economy, but also because it is the right thing for our nation to do," the letter states.
The letter notes that "Dreamers" are individuals who "played no role in the decision to come here, and they have known no other home but the United States."
The letter notes that many DACA recipients subjected themselves to extensive background and security checks in order to work and attend college.
"They are working to support themselves and their families, paying taxes and contributing to their communities in a myriad of ways," it states.
The letter was signed by Hebert, a Republican, and fellow GOP governors from Nevada, Massachusetts, Ohio and Vermont; Democratic governors from Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina; and Alaska's governor, who is independent.
"We urge you to support these young Americans by quickly sending a signal that we want them to continue to play a productive role in our communities. As a bipartisan coalition of governors, we stand ready to help," the letter concludes.