DACA recipients now have powerful ally in new bipartisan coalition

Texas Opportunity Coalition sees hope in possible stand-alone Dream Act

SAN ANTONIO – The details, such as a pathway to citizenship still to be determined, but the new Texas Opportunity Coalition launched last week has come out in support of what could be a stand-alone Dream Act giving DACA recipients permanent legal status.

The varied and bipartisan coalition includes leaders in business, manufacturing, education and communities statewide, among others.

For instance, its co-chair, Eddie Aldrete, senior vice president of International Bank of Commerce, said, “Bankers, by their nature, are economic developers” but added, “Communities can’t grow and jobs can’t be created if we don’t have people to fill those jobs.”

Aldrete said the concept is simple.

”We either have to create our own human capital, which we’re not doing because we’re not having enough children to sustain ourselves as a population, or we import our human capital, which we are also not doing because we have a broken immigration system,” he said.

Aldrete said the coalition has not yet endorsed any DACA-related pieces of legislation because very few have been filed, but it will be analyzing each one to decide which to support and endorse.

“What we do endorse at this point is that a bipartisan bill is better and more likely to pass,” Aldrete said.

Andrea Ramos Fernandez, the business outreach manager for Texas Business Immigration Coalition, is a UTSA graduate and a DACA recipient herself.

“I do find comfort in knowing that there are people that care about the issue. And it is something that pushes me through every single day,” Ramos Fernandez said.

She said as it is, Texas has 213,000 Dreamers, “whether it’s in food supply, whether it’s in health care, whether they’re teachers. In Texas alone, we have 20,000 DACA recipient teachers.”

Both she and Aldrete said the public is largely behind giving Dreamers permanent legal status, as well as growing bipartisan support.

“Sooner or later something’s got to give,” Aldrete said. “We think we have the opportunity right now to be able to solve this problem.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.