DACA is crucial
‘Protecting Dreamers will protect our entire nation’
I’ve worked in law enforcement in Iowa for the past 25 years (14 years as a police chief). I have spent the past six+ years as the chief of police in Marshalltown. I can tell you without a doubt that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is crucial to the security and overall safety of my community.
As a law enforcement officer, my No. 1 priority is always safety — the safety of everyone in my community and my country. When law enforcement establishes trust with residents, the entire community is safer. That is why I’m writing this piece, to urge Rep. Rod Blum and Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley to take this matter as seriously as any other issue of national security, because it is.
There isn’t much time left to find a solution. Every day hundreds of Dreamers lose their protected status — and that makes our country less safe.
In Marshalltown, I work with immigrants all the time, both documented and undocumented. Regardless of immigration status, we all want safe neighborhoods and schools. We want to raise our families and educate our children so they can pursue the American dream.
The key to a safe community is building trust and opening lines of communication between law enforcement and the community we serve. We are all in this together, and no police department can function effectively without the trust and support of the entire community. In my professional experience, I can tell you our community is safer when I can talk to community members and families openly without them worrying if I will deport mom or dad.
Maria Gonzalez is one of the DACA recipients I have worked with. We share common goals of family, public safety, community-building and developing positive community relationships. Maria is also a trusted and respected community leader. Maria recently wrote to me, “I remember arriving to the United States at age 3, speaking no English and fearful of everything. We created a life in the shadows. Five years ago, my life changed when I was approved for DACA. Passing the background check, educational requirements and extensive application process, I was approved for the program. After 25 years here, I now could work, drive and give back even more to the community where I grew up.
“Now, however, with the program coming to an end, it has brought uncertainty and fear as rumors of raids and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) work their way through towns. Knowing that our police chief, Mike Tupper, is committed to protecting our whole community, regardless of immigration status, has really opened communication with the undocumented community. From ‘Coffee with a Cop,’ to interviews on Spanish radio, to working on different committees together, we have partnered to create a safer town for all.”
Maria and I are not alone. Many other law enforcement experts, including in Houston and Cedar Rapids, agree that our country is safer when immigrants can come out of the shadows and participate in our economy and culture. A legal solution for Dreamers will help make Marshalltown and other communities across Iowa safer.
Dreamers have already started the legal process to become citizens: They’ve applied, gotten background checks, have tax-paying jobs and are working to get a good education to contribute to our economy. By breaking our promise to them, we are not only hurting them but our nation, too.
Immigration reform shouldn’t be a partisan issue — it should be a matter of national security. It is time Republicans and Democrats came together to find a permanent solution this month to help protect our country.
To our Iowa congressional delegation: Now is the time for action. Protecting Dreamers will protect our entire nation.
Mike Tupper is the Marshalltown police chief.