Editor:

The number of undocumented immigrant children brought to the U.S. by their parents is relatively small in Wyoming. But the value these young people bring to our state today, and into the future, is large.

Immigration is a complex topic, and while Congress should address that issue with measure, we urge Wyoming’s delegation to act with urgency on a single issue: to ensure youth protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program can continue their studies or employment in the United States.

Wyoming’s aging population, the need to diversify the economy, our reliance on a skilled workforce and the growing minority population are all facets of the same complex discussion.

Wyoming’s population is aging quickly. In June, Dr. Wenlin Liu, chief economist, Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division, reported “the aging of Wyoming’s population has picked up speed, and the pace was one of the fastest in the country.”

Wyoming’s unemployment rate decreased from 5 to 3.8 percent from July 2016 to July 2017 largely because the state lost workers, with movers tending to be younger.

The growing minority population helped offset the workers who left. Liu reported that “nearly two-thirds of the state’s population growth from 2010 to 2016 was attributed to addition in the minority population.”

The expiration of these protections would significantly impact Wyoming’s minority population.

Many of those protected are enrolled in one of Wyoming’s seven community colleges or the University of Wyoming.

Many of those with protection have graduated and are employed in Wyoming.

Allowing the protections to expire before enacting appropriate legislation will impact young adults enrolled in our colleges and working for Wyoming employers.

The young adults enrolled in our colleges who are in jeopardy of being deported are Wyoming’s youth. Their hopes and dreams include futures in Wyoming. We advocate for them and for Wyoming’s future, both of which will be better with them here.

We encourage Wyoming’s delegation to support the Dream Act (S. 1615, H.R. 3440) or similar legislation that protects these youth. We ask that action be compassionate and expeditious. Time is of the essence for these youth and for Wyoming’s economy.

Drs. Paul Young (president, Northern Wyoming Community College District), Karla Leach

(president, Western Wyoming Community College), Lesley Travers (president, Eastern Wyoming College), Stefani Hicswa (president, Northwest College), Brad Tyndall (president, Central Wyoming College) Joe

Schaffer (president, Laramie County Community College), Darren Divine (president, Casper College) and Laurie Nichols (president, UW).

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