American Dreamers Hold Out Hope

In a recovered economy, can America afford to deport millions of undocumented and protected-status immigrants?
By: | April 25, 2018 • 3 min read
DACA behind barbed wire

On Tuesday, Judge John D. Bates of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department for Homeland Security had 90 days to submit tangible proof that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful. If the DHS is unsuccessful, the case will be dismissed and all new and renewal DACA applications must be processed.

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No matter your political affiliation, keeping DACA and other protected populations with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is beneficial for American businesses and economy, according to experts.

In January, the Cato Institute estimated that terminating DACA and immediately deporting those formerly protected would cost the federal government $60 billion, and would reduce economic growth by $280 billion in the next 10 years.

Currently, there are at least 800,000 documented DACA recipients, but there are far more Dreamers (a name coined during the Obama administration based on the Dreamers after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which didn’t pass) who aren’t protected under DACA or other temporary status—a number that’s been estimated at 3.6 million.

DACA only protects immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children and have been living here since before 2007.

From the start of his presidency, Trump has wavered in his decisions regarding DACA, first saying he supported a path to citizenship for Dreamers, but earlier this month he vehemently tweeted “NO MORE DACA DEAL.”

Robert Loughran, managing partner at Foster Global Immigration, says that if DACA is “sunsetted” he wonders how many employers, congressmen and the president himself have thought “what happens next?” 

“If you get rid of millions of people, how do you staff the positions they’re currently filling?” asks Loughran. “How do our buildings get cleaned or built and how does our food get farmed or made? No one has seen a true ‘day without an immigrant’ because these millions of people are woven into the fabric of our society.”

He adds that many DACA recipients don’t realize they aren’t naturalized citizens. They may not find out until they go to college or join the military. They’ve been raised here, and their only memories of home are the U.S.

 

Loughran adds that obtaining U.S. citizenship is difficult, especially if someone comes from “humble means.”

“Humble means refers to no family currently legally living in the U.S., no college education and no advanced skills that make you ‘desirable.’ Without any of these factors, the odds of legal entry into America are heavily stacked against you.”

Loughran says the most important thing to understand is if someone has lived here without legal status for at least one year, they’ll be barred from returning to America for 10 years. This extends to all people currently here under a protected status.

If the ethical reasons for allowing immigrants to remain in the U.S. aren’t substantial enough to convince naysayers and decision makers, the financial reasons should be. In a recovered economy with low unemployment rates, there are fewer workers than ever looking to fill low-wage, unskilled jobs. Hiring immigrants keeps consumer goods prices and business costs low.

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Additionally, research from the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy revealed that undocumented immigrants contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $11.74 billion a year. Nationwide, undocumented immigrants pay, on average, an estimated 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes (this is their effective state and local tax rate). The website states: “To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average nationwide effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent.”

Loughran recalls a recent conversation with a wealthy investor from the Middle East. The investor who often frequented the U.S. and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during each visit no longer feels comfortable coming to America. He told Loughran that the money he would normally spend in America can be spent somewhere that doesn’t threaten his very existence.

To lose millions of tax payers, potential foreign investors and even tourists would put significant economic burden onto America’s already stretched-thin shoulders.

Danielle Westermann King, staff writer for HRE, received her bachelor’s degree in English from Temple University. She has written and edited articles for various print and online healthcare publications and is now setting her sights on human resources. She can be reached at [email protected]

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