DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a policy that was passed under the Obama Administration in 2012 as a way for the children of illegal immigrants to be able to come out of the shadows and live the true American dream. This is done by providing two-year work permits to all those eligible under the policy. Those eligible under DACA must have entered the country below the age of 16 and be under the age of 31 as of July 15, 2012 as well as not having any severe misdemeanor record. In other words, DACA was a solution put into place to give the hundreds of thousands of undocumented children and young adults in the US the ability to have a brighter and more hopeful future. Rightfully, this generation of people without a country to call their own but with a future for their own have been coined as the “Dreamers.”
The effect that DACA had for the Dreamers is undeniably tremendous. A recent study in the well-respected Journal of Public Economics estimates that not only increased the average income of undocumented immigrants at the bottom of the income distribution, but it also put somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 undocumented immigrants into employment. An economist from the University of California, Davis concluded that DACA, “increases consumption and overall demand of US services, products, and jobs where the DACA recipients live and spread.” This massive increase in employment and demand has an obvious impact on the US economy as well. With those under DACA buying their first cars, homes and more, even people who are not directly affected by DACA are being positively impacted. At least they were…
During the 2016 election campaign, President Trump made several claims about how DACA was the reason for unemployment in America. His argument was that undocumented immigrants are taking away jobs from US citizens. By saying this, he gained the votes of millions of unemployed workers in the US while simultaneously breaking the hearts of many Americans and causing economists from across the world to cringe. Trumps argument, although it may seem legitimate at first, is based around the “lump of labor” fallacy. This assumes that there is a limit to the size of a workforce in an economy. This was proven to be definitively incorrect over a century ago by economist David Frederick Schloss, who concluded that the amount of work in an economy is not fixed. However, the illegitimate claims he made did not stop the momentum he’d already built amongst his loyal supporters. Since then Trump has continued to push for the removal of DACA in office.
Last Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced that DACA has been rescinded after being ruled “unconstitutional” by the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals under similar claims as the DAPA(Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals) was rescinded.
This decision will not only be catastrophic towards the massive community of Dreamers who were making a future for themselves in what they see as the “Land of Opportunity,” but it is also a blow towards the United States both economically and socially. The CATO Institute found that the removal of the DACA program will have a negative impact of about $280 billion on tax revenue. That’s right…tax revenue. This loss may lead to increased taxes for the rest of American citizens, or simply fewer investments into our struggling infrastructure. Not only this, but by deporting hundreds of thousands of educated and passionate workers is extremely counter-productive. As theorized by Giovanni Peri, Chair of the Department of Economics and UC Davis, the loss of DACA-educated workers, who the US economy has already invested in through public education, will result in a loss $433 billion over the next decade. On top of all of this, the morality that the US is portrayed to have towards hard-working immigrants and people escaping dangerous situations will be completely shattered. We will be seen as a cold-blooded nation by our allies for abandoning people who call our country their home. Pope Francis has already explained that a decision that involves abandoning children is not “pro-life.” If Trump is truly pro-life, the Pope advised that he rethink his decision.
DACA is a program that was one of the few programs in the last decade that was truly successful. It had bi-partisan approval within Congress when introduced by President Obama, and it has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” across the nation. The removal of DACA truly shows a negative shift in the decision making of United States government based around the idea of knocking others down rather than building each other up. Instead of building off of the successes of the previous administration, Trump decided to crush it, removing any signs of it. Not only does this make him look more powerful amongst his supporters, but it also shows to them that he is willing to act on the things he said on the campaign trail, whether the decision be based on fact of fallacy. That is horrifying. However, this decision will come with consequences. As the economy begins to fall, taxes begin to rise, and the rest of the world begin to laugh in our faces, it will be clear what went wrong.
Discussion on the topic is welcome in the comments below.
-Vinay Konuru, Florida