DACA causes economic concerns in some small Nebraska towns like Schuyler

SCHUYLER, Neb. (KMTV) - In the town of Schuyler, located about 65 miles west of Omaha, immigration reform is a huge issue.

A Cargill beef processing plant is the largest employer there, with a predominately Hispanic workforce.

People who live in Schuyler, a town of about 6,000 people, are worried what the economic impact would be on the immigrant workforce there if DACA recipients and their families are forced to leave.

"In this town, there's a lot of commerce, Hispanic business. And the majority of our clients are Hispanics," said Rosa Lopez, Schuyler restaurant owner.

Business owners in Schuyler — with a population that’s nearly 70 percent Hispanic and a business district dominated by Hispanic-owned shops and restaurants — is worried about the repercussions its economy would face if there's no DACA resolution by March.

"We depend on our youngsters for the future,” resident Irma Cuevas said. “So if that were eliminated, it would completely devastate not only Schuyler, but several other communities."

"They're our clients,” Lopez said. “And if they get rid of the program, we would lose them as clients. And they wouldn't be able to contribute to the local economy."

Long-time residents, like Luis Lucar, say DACA helps keep — and bring in — more people to the workforce there in Schuyler, which he says used to be a ghost town.

"If that happened, Schuyler would definitely go back to those years where businesses were closing,” Lucar said. “I don't think we want to see that again. And not only in Schuyler, but other Nebraskan cities that basically survive because of the immigrant workforce."

Burrito House owner Chuy Salinas said at the end of the day, DACA recipients should get to stay — not only because it's good for business, but because it's the right thing to do.

“Business is business,” he said. “But it's heartbreaking to see the moms and their kids, even if they're older like 22 or 25 — they'd have to be sent back and not even have a place to live.”

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