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INSIGHT: Trump Bemoans a DACA Decision He Should Celebrate

June 30, 2020, 8:00 AM

President Trump cried foul after the U. S. Supreme Court in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the State of California refused to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), the initiative allowing some 800,000 Dreamers avoid deportation.

Trump immediately began his now typical Tweet storm: Bemoaning the “horrible & politically charged decisions,” calling them “shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.” Trump lamented about “decisions” (there was only one), but the facts belie his baseless assertions. Indeed, the decision should be hailed by republicans and fiscal conservatives alike.

Despite Trump’s incendiary protestations, the DACA program is a boom for the economy as well as domestic employers. The empirical data and studies are unequivocal. DACA recipients buttress the economy, benefiting employers in all sectors where they are employed.

Overwhelming Benefits

While he would be foolish to do so, just a day after the decision, Trump promised another effort at ending DACA. If he succeeds, he would be cutting off his nose to spite his face. Why? Because DACA benefits all of us due to recipients being allowed to work legally, and thereby adding much needed income tax revenue, as well as other taxes paid stemming from using their disposable income.

Further, DACA ensures domestic employers have educated and productive employees that have historically succeeded in our society. Even Trump previously recognized this fact: “You have people in this country for 20 years, they’ve done a great job, they’ve done wonderfully, they’ve gone to school, they’ve gotten good marks, they’re productive—now we’re supposed to send them out of the country?”

Economic Nightmare

If Trump ends DACA, the harms would be devastating. Indeed, a House of Representative report specifically found ending DACA would be a “nightmare for businesses” and “nightmares for America’s economy.” The House report found small businesses around the country rely heavily on DACA recipients for a qualified, trained, and stable workforce, and ending the program would put a severe strain on these employers.

The House report further calculated if the program were ended, employers would suffer direct costs of over $6 billion in worker turnover costs, including hiring and training new workers. The report concludes the cost to employers of rescinding DACA is equivalent to an estimated 30 major regulations—all to be borne directly by the nation’s job creators.

A recent FWD.US report on ending DACA similarly concluded removing DACA recipients from the workforce will cost $460.3 billion in GDP loss over a decade, and it would cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs. Business Insider observed, “Ending DACA would place severe economic strain on businesses around the country, putting them into the impossible and extremely costly position of having to fire productive employees for no other reason than an arbitrary change in federal policy.” The Business Insider article also cited an analyst at the Libertarian CATO Institute, who observed if the government forced employers to fire all DACA recipients, it would cost employers an estimated $6.3 billion.

A report by the Center for American Progress concluded DACA has “positively affected the economy more generally, which benefits all Americans.” A related report by the Center for American Progress found if DACA were ended, it would “creat[e] tremendous disruption for businesses, and sending shockwaves through the economies of most states.” A policy brief by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center likewise concluded terminating DACA would lead to “massive unemployment … and employers to incur turnover costs in the billions of dollars.”

Program Opens Doors

A related result of the program’s termination would be mass unemployment for these educated talented young people. Without the legal right to pursue an advanced education or undertake lawful employment, they will be permanently mired in a life of limited opportunities for educational and career advancement. Indeed, the Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe, recognized undocumented children’s access to education as central to preventing the creation of a permanent underclass. The decision of Brown v. Bd. of Education further recognized “denying … children a basic education” would “deny them the ability to live within the structure of our civic institutions.”

One of the baseless tropes used by conservative demagogues to attack DACA is that the program takes jobs from domestic workers. Once again, the truth is otherwise. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of immigrant rights, for instance, claimed DACA recipients stole jobs from Americans. An NPR report debunked Sessions’ claims, finding “no reason to think DACA recipients have a major deleterious effect on American workers’ employment chances.

What’s more, some economists believe DACA is actually a boost to the economy.” Mark Zandi, chief analyst of Moody’s Analytics stated, in response to Sessions’ claim: “There is no evidence of that.” In fact, contrary to Sessions’ assertion, DACA recipients are job creators, with 6% of DACA recipients (and nearly 9% of Dreamers 25 years and older) started their own businesses. Those businesses in turn create jobs for other U.S. residents, and each such business with full-time employees employs on average 4.5 other workers. The Center for American Progress found the total of the new DACA business employs an amount totaling nearly 86,000 additional jobs nationally.

Thus, despite his recent protestations concerning a so-called slap to the face to conservatives, Trump once again misses the mark. The Supreme Court’s DACA decision was not only sound on the law, the program in question makes sound economic sense. DACA should be supported and recognized as a positive and powerful economic engine. Isn’t it time to end the xenophobia and demagoguery, and recognize Dreamers are not only young Americans, they contribute immensely to our collective well-being, and need to be embraced by our great nation.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

Author Information

Ediberto Román is a law professor and nationally acclaimed constitutional law, immigration, and critical theory scholar at Florida International University. He edits NYU Press Series, “Citizenship and Migration in the Americas.”

María M. Pabón is a professor of Law at Loyola University in New Orleans . A native of Puerto Rico, she served as Dean of the College of Law at Loyola from 2011-2015.

Dr. Richard T. Middleton is an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and an adjunct professor of law at St. Louis University School of Law. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and earned his J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law..

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