Guest Commentary

I’m a Dreamer and also a Kansas City entrepreneur. People like me need the Dream Act

Zaid Consuegra, owner of Pirate's Bone coffee shop in Brookside and a DACA recipient, urges Congress to pass the Dream Act.
Zaid Consuegra, owner of Pirate's Bone coffee shop in Brookside and a DACA recipient, urges Congress to pass the Dream Act. File photo

The menu at Pirate’s Bone coffee shop is as bicultural as me.

You’ll find horchata mixed with espresso. A white chocolate latte flavored with guallijo chilies. Cinnamon-infused cold brew coffee.

My business is a reflection of who I am, of my hopes and dreams.

I moved to the U.S. from Mexico when I was 11. For many years, I was ashamed of who I was — and where I came from. I was undocumented.

In 2015, after years of living with the fear of being undocumented, I applied for President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals DACA, or DACA, program.

My life has plunged into chaos after President Donald Trump announced he was ending the DACA program in 2018.

Every day at my shop, I provide people with a greeting and a dose of caffeine. I am part of this community. It’s heartbreaking to think of how quickly life as I know it could end.

If Congress fails to pass the Dream Act, DACA will end and the futures of 800,000 entrepreneurs, soldiers, students, young families, and business owners like me will be devastated. We must come together and demand Congress pass a clean, bipartisan Dream Act.

A bipartisan Dream Act would protect DACA recipients by providing qualified undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 18 a pathway to citizenship. To be eligible, individuals must graduate from high school or pass the GED and either attend college or enlist in the military.

In Kansas and Missouri, DACA has allowed more than 10,000 young people to come forward, pass background checks, and live and work legally in their communities. Ending DACA would cost the state of Missouri more that $209 million and the state of Kansas $330 million in annual GDP loses.

Dreamers are also business owners who provide jobs, products, services to the community and the economy. A recent study from the University of California found at least 5 percent of DACA recipients have started their own businesses since enrolling the program. Immigrants — including Dreamers like me — are boosting the rate of entrepreneurship in the U.S., which has been in decline for native-born Americans.

With the help of the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance — a coalition composed of the ACLU of Missouri, One Struggle KC, Artists for Life, Showing Up for Racial Justice-KC, Food Not Bombs KC, Reale Justice Network and Guadalupe Center — more than 50 Kansas City-area business owners like myself are petitioning members of Congress to work together and pass a Dream Act that will contribute billions to the economy and preserve the lives of the 800,000 DACA recipients across the nation.

Wednesday marks the three-month anniversary of the decision to end DACA. I will be participating with others the Kansas City area in a National Day of Action for the Dream Act.

I realized my own dream when I started my business. At Pirate’s Bone, we serve 30,000 cups of coffee per year. We’re developing a vegan menu because we see a brighter future for everyone if we lessened our impact on the environment. We all have dreams. Now is the time to act for them.

Zaid Consuegra is the owner of Pirate’s Bone coffee shop in Brookside.