Speaking recently with a reporter at POLITICO, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said that “there still is an appreciation in Maine for someone who looks at the facts of an issue, votes with integrity and independence.”

During my years as the mayor of Augusta and as a state senator, I always tried to be the kind of pragmatic New England legislator Sen. Collins described. Turning that outlook towards the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, I’m confident that the facts of the issue are quite clear.

DACA, which is awaiting a Nov. 12 hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, is a constitutional and incredibly successful program — and one whose protection Sen. Collins ought to make a top priority.

Since it was introduced in the summer of 2012, DACA has allowed over 700,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children to step out of the shadows. In exchange for passing a strenuous background check and proving that they are either in school, received a high school education, or were honorably discharged from the U.S. military, these men and women earned temporary protection from deportation and the ability to legally live and work in the United States for two-year increments.

Thanks to their DACA status, these Dreamers contribute billions of dollars to our national economy each year, including paying $4 billion in taxes. Even though Maine has the second-smallest number of Dreamers out of any state, it’s still estimated that they contribute nearly $4 million to our state’s economy annually.

Our Dreamers go beyond the numbers, too, clearly making Maine a better place. They’re nurses who care for and heal us. They’re entrepreneurs, innovating and creating new businesses. And, crucially, they’re regular people working a variety of jobs — something that’s increasingly important as Maine ages and loses workers.

I know that this is an issue close to Sen. Collins’ heart. She has spoken many times before — both publicly and privately — about her desire to see a legislative solution for Maine’s and America’s DACA recipients, young men and women who often know no other country as home.

The consequences are dire if such a legislative solution is not passed soon. All that Maine Dreamers have contributed to our state and to our communities, and the lives that these young people have worked so hard to build for themselves, is at risk of being taken away if the Supreme Court wrongfully rules that the Trump administration’s rescission of the DACA program back in 2017 was constitutional.

We are reaching the point where all of us — American citizens and DACA recipients alike — need our representatives in Congress to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. Sen. Collins has often been that senator.

Sen. Collins has an opportunity before her once again to do what is right, to make sure we — as a nation — honor the promises we made to DACA recipients. She can do this by getting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on the House’s American Dream and Promise Act, and then to send it on to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

Someone recently reminded me of the words of our most famous Maine poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”

Sen. Collins, I urge you — both as a friend and as a constituent — to keep knocking for Dreamers until the Senate wakes up and votes to protect them.

Roger Katz served as a Republican state senator from Augusta from 2010-2018. He practices law in Augusta.


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