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,DACAprotects 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 fromU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Trump’s action, deferring the actual end of the program, effectively kicks responsibility for the fate of the Dreamers to his fellow Republicans who control Congress.
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.
AT&T (No. 3 on the DiversityInc 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list); Cummins, Inc. (No. 21); Exelon Corporation (No. 27); General Motors (No. 42); Hilton (No. 30); Kaiser Permanente (No. 2); Marriott International (No. 8); United Continental Holdings (a Noteworthy Company); and Wells Fargo (No. 9) all signed on to the letter.
On Tuesday, Roger Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company (No. 36), tweeted: “Rescinding DACA is cruel and misguided. Dreamers contribute to our economy and our nation. Congress must act fast to protect them!”
Rescinding DACA is cruel and misguided. Dreamers contribute to our economy and our nation. Congress must act fast to protect them!
Robert Iger (@RobertIger) September5, 2017
In a statement to Politico, General Motors said it “stands with the Dreamers we employ and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers employed by multiple companies across the U.S. Protecting American companies’ access to talented workers from outside of the U.S. is an important component for our global competitiveness and our success in the U.S.”
In an official statement on Tuesday, Marriott said it “remain[s] committed to working with Congress on broad immigration reform efforts and call[s] on Members to urgently pass the DREAM Act or other legislation to provide the certainty and permanent solution that DACA individuals deserve to remain valuable contributors to our society and economy.”
Beth BrookeMarciniak,Global Vice Chair of Public Policy and sponsor of Diversity and Inclusiveness at EY (No. 1), tweeted: “People are the key to success in business and building a#BetterWorkingWorld. All people. Diversity welcome.#DACA”
Beth BrookeMarciniak (@BethBrooke_EY) September6, 2017
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley released a statement on Tuesday morning calling the decision “contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country.”
“With approximately 700,000 DACA recipients working for all sorts of businesses across the country, terminating their employment eligibility runs contrary to the president’s goal of growing the U.S. economy,” Bradley stated.
And, once again, a Trump decision has led to at least one person leaving one of the president’s councils. Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, resigned from Trump’s Diversity Council over the DACA decision. He announced his decision on-air during HLN’s “Across America with Carol Costello.”
“I have resigned. There is no letter, this is it, this is the resignation,” Palomarez said.
“We are talking about people’s lives here and chief among them are the young people,” he went on. “People who are brought here of no knowledge or any kind of decisions of their own. They were brought here on average of the age of six or younger. They have worked hard to become good American citizens. We should be protecting these people and not expelling them from this country.”
The president that prided himself on being a businessman rather than a politician could not keep his business councils together.
CEOs began stepping down from Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and his Strategic and Policy Forum as a result of the White House’s delayed response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., which left one counter-protester dead and consisted of many Trump supporters. Other leaders followed suit, and the councils were ultimately dissolved.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in statements of their own that they plan to sue Trump over the DACA decision.
Schneiderman called DACA recipients “vital members of the community.”
“They played by the rules. They pay their taxes. And they’ve earned the right to stay in the only home they have ever known,” Schneiderman said. “More than 40,000 New Yorkers are protected under DACA. They pay more than $140 million in state and local taxes.”