President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, will have negative consequences on the United States economy, according to experts and leaders in the business community.
U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III announced the president’s decision on Tuesday. According to the White House, no current DACA recipients will be affected before March 5, and Congress has six months to decide the fates of the so-called “Dreamers” currently benefiting from DACA.
Established in 2012, DACA protects immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States by undocumented parents when they were under sixteen. DACA applicants must have been living in the country since at least June of 2007 and either be enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or equivalent or be an honorably discharged veteran. They cannot have been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor or more than two other misdemeanors.
Nearly 800,000 people have obtained DACA status, according to the most recent statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Deporting American residents who entered the country illegally as children could cost the U.S. economy about $280 billion, according to a study by the CATO Institute published in January. “Many Americans believe that the presence of unauthorized immigrants is harmful to the economy and would like to see steps taken to reduce their presence,” wrote economist Ike Brannon, a co-author of the study. “However, a repeal or roll-back of DACA would harm the economy and cost the U.S. government a significant amount of lost tax revenue.”
Brannon, who served in previous Republican administrations, elaborated on the study last week, saying the “numbers we suggest are conservative,” and explained that “Most of this high cost is driven by the fact that the ‘dreamers’ tend to do well in school and as a result do well in the job market after they complete their education.”
“The deportation of DACA participants would cost the American economy billions of dollars, as well as billions of tax dollars foregone, while doing little to address the true concerns that Americans may have about unauthorized immigrants.”
Meanwhile, a report released last month by the Center for American Progress, a progressive policy institute, and immigration advocacy organization FWD.us found that 91 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed at companies throughout the country and removing them from the workforce will cut economic output by more than $460 billion over 10 years. “It will cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs, and would cut contributions to Medicare and Social Security by $24.6 billion over a decade.”
“The findings reinforce the devastating consequences a repeal would inflict on DACA recipients and their families, as well as the dire, far-reaching consequences to communities across the country, to employers, and to the American economy across all regions and sectors.”
Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, said in an interview with CNBC’s “Power Lunch” last week that at least three-quarters of the nation’s biggest businesses have an employee identified as a DACA recipient — “which means [the number] is much higher.”
“It’s fair to say almost every major company in America is benefiting from DACA because they’ve been able to hire someone who’s a DACA recipient,” Schulte said in the interview.
More than 400 business leaders, including the CEOs of several DiversityInc Top 50 or Noteworthy companies, signed a letter to President Trump ahead of his decision arguing that in addition to humanitarian reasons, DACA recipients play an important role in the U.S. economy.
“All DACA recipients grew up in America, registered with our government, submitted to extensive background checks, and are diligently giving back to our communities and paying income taxes,” according to the letter posted on FWD.us. “More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.”
“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage,” the letter stated.