WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sep. 5, 2017, the Trump administration repealed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, jeopardizing the social and economic future of 800,000 young immigrants currently enrolled in DACA. President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed the decision was motivated by the knowledge that those in the country hurt Americans by decreasing wages and taking jobs. However, statistics tell a different story. There are several economic benefits of DACA.
DACA is a program that protects people who came to the United States as children. If they meet certain guidelines, program beneficiaries can delay being removed from the country for two years. When the time expires they must request deferral again. They are also eligible to work in the U.S. This program does not guarantee citizenship. Here are four economic benefits of DACA.
- Increases Money for Social Programs and Lowers Economic Deficit
The recipients of DACA pay more into the tax system than they take out. In addition, their parents don’t receive social benefits despite paying into the system. Social Security’s chief actuary found that unauthorized immigrants contribute 13 times more revenue into the program than they took out.
Specifically, they give $2 billion to Social Security taxes and almost $470 million to Medicare taxes, supporting critical social welfare programs for all U.S. citizens. Likewise, the Congressional Budget Office found that easing the journey to legal immigration would decrease the deficit by tens of billions of dollars. Protecting DACA recipients benefits all Americans.
- Higher Rates of Entrepreneurship
The U.S. prides itself on being a great melting pot where immigrants pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When we honor that principle, innovation ensues. Skilled immigrants generate businesses and new gadgets. For example, economists Jennifer Hunt and Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle found that a small increase in skilled immigration can boost patents in the order of 10 to 20 percent.
Also, in the 2017 National DACA survey conducted by political science associate professor Tom K. Wong, 5 percent of respondents stated that they started their own business after receiving DACA. That number climbs to 8 percent when considering respondents 25 and older. Among the U.S. public as a whole, the rate of starting a business is 3.1 percent. DACA recipients outpace the general population in terms of business creation. Driven by their desire for a better life, DACA beneficiaries simultaneously improve their economic lives and the lives of U.S. citizens.
- States Benefit from DACA Spending Power
In the same 2017 National DACA Survey, two-thirds of respondents reported spending around $16,469 on the purchase of their first car. Most states collect a percentage of the car purchase price in sales tax, along with additional registration and title fees. Large purchases like buying a car increase revenue in state economies, allotting more money for things in the state such as education that benefit all.
Statistics also show a significant portion of recipients are homeowners. Sixteen percent of respondents to the survey purchased their first home after receiving DACA. The number once again increases among respondents 25 and older. Home purchases create jobs and invigorate local economies.
- Educated Human Capital
DACA recipients are educated. According to the New American Economy, 81.4 percent have graduated from high school and taken a college course. In addition, nearly 17 percent have gone to college and earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Deporting DACA recipients would be a waste of billions in human capital already invested in the education of these young immigrants.
President Trump said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for the millions of U.S. citizens victimized by this unfair system. However, data contradicts his claims. The economic benefits of DACA are enormous. Everyone in the U.S. benefits when immigrants can pursue and realize the American dream.
– Jeanine Thomas