The Economic Benefits of the DACA Program
Created in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program benefits hundreds of thousands of youth in America. Often referred to as “Dreamers,” potential beneficiaries must meet and continue to adhere to strict standards and requirements. Membership in the program is not permanent and must be renewed every two years. Additionally, the government can revoke DACA rights from any person at any time.
The DACA program provides myriad benefits to individuals, communities, and America as a whole. Yet, President Trump has attempted to end the DACA program in 2017. Currently, the program’s continuation, and thus the future of its beneficiaries, lies with the U.S. judicial system. A string of court rulings and appeals makes it likely the Supreme Court will make the final decision regarding DACA’s future.
DACA’s uncertain future encourages all Americans to consider the many strengths of the program. Without DACA, hundreds of thousands, potentially millions, would be in danger of loss of status, and ultimately, deportation. Obviously, this would be a grievous occurrence, should it come to pass.
Opponents of DACA discuss perceived detriments of the program, but ignore its many proven benefits. In this article, we will highlight the economic advantages of DACA, including who benefits from it, as well as how it helps individuals, local governments, and the federal economy as a whole.
Who Benefits from DACA?
In order to receive DACA status, a young person must meet very specific a set of standards. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), these include any persons who:
- Arrived in the U.S. before turning 16;
- Were younger than 31 upon DACA’s creation (June 15, 2012);
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
- Were physically present in the U.S. (1) on the day of their application and (2) on June 15, 2012;
- Are either currently in school, graduated from high school or received a GED certificate, or received honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard
- Have never committed a felony, any “significant misdemeanor,” and/or thre or more lesser misdemeanors; and
- Pose no threat in any way to American public safety or national security.
At this time, nearly 800,000 young people have benefitted from the program, receiving protection from deportation and the ability to work and/or study in the U.S. While DACA status officially protects from deportation, it only provides “deferred action.” This means that there is no official legal status conferred, and Dreamers must renew their deferral of removal in order to avoid deportation. It is worth noting that at this time the program provides no direct path to citizenship or legal permanent status (i.e., green cards). Some beneficiaries may qualify for such benefits via another route.
At this point, the Trump administration must continue to accept DACA renewals but is not accepting any new applications, pending litigation. Davis &. Associates continues to monitor the developing DACA court proceedings and will share updates as they are available.
How Does DACA Help the U.S. Economy?
For recipients of DACA benefits, the status unlocks avenues of achievement and prosperity that were otherwise unattainable. In this section, we’ll first explore the economic strengths of DACA for Dreamers, including job security and educational attainment. Then, we’ll review the effects of DACA on communities and the U.S. economy overall.
Participation in DACA helps boost recipients educational opportunities and achievement. A 2017 national survey of Dreamers found that 65% of respondents “pursued educational opportunities that [they] previously could not” because of DACA. This better-educated population can certainly apply their skills and knowledge to help American communities and improve the job force.
Contribution to the Labor Force
Dreamers not only receive better educational opportunities, but can cast a wider net in the workforce. This heightens job opportunities and encourages professional growth. The same 2017 national survey found that after receiving DACA benefits, over 50% of respondents got their first job. Further, of those who did have jobs, over 68% got a job with better pay and 54% found a job that “better fits [their] education and training.”
Taxes and GDP
While the impressive personal benefits of DACA status are obvious, some may wonder about the program’s larger effects. How does it benefit the U.S. overall, and its economy?
According to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the roughly 1.3 million youths either enrolled or eligible for DACA contribute roughly $1.7 billion per year in both local and state taxes. According to the American Immigration Council (AIC), ending the program would lower state and local tax revenues by nearly $800 million annually.
Finally, considering the current legal standing of the DACA program, it’s prudent to consider what would happen if the program were discontinued. The Observer estimates that the U.S. could lose around $460 billion in GDP if it removes Dreamers from the country and the workforce. That would surely be a stunning blow.
In conclusion, while the above facts and figures are impressive, they only scratch the surface of DACA benefits. The advantages of such a program are deeply profound, affecting all levels of society. For more information and to read full economic reports, simply follow the embedded links within this article to read more from sources like the American Immigration Council and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
Worried? Contact an Expert Immigration Lawyer
The potential ramifications of loss of immigration status can be terrifying. This can be especially salient for young people who have called the United States ‘home’ for most of their lives. If you or a loved one are currently a DACA beneficiary, don’t hesitate to work with a skilled immigration attorney. Only an attorney certified by your state’s bar association can provide the proper guidance and counsel necessary for your situation.
Davis & Associates serves the Dallas area with integrity, passion, and a high level of expertise. We will help defend your rights and ensure that you receive fair consideration, no matter your immigration concern. Schedule a free initial consultation today and start planning for tomorrow.