Will Republicans Trash the Economy on the Altar of Bigotry?

With labor growth at zero, does it make sense to deport Dreamers or El Salvadorans? Who are they? What do they contribute?
Moses Frenck

The Trump administration and its sycophant GOP enablers seem more than willing to sacrifice the nation’s economic power and growth in exchange for ridding the United States of its darker-skinned immigrant population.

Deportation policies favored by President Donald Trump and his fellow immigration restrictionists — aside from being inhumane and morally bankrupt — directly contradict the president’s no-holds-barred “America First” ambition.

With labor growth at zero, does it make sense to deport Dreamers or El Salvadorans?


Beyond further diminishing the United States’ global status, the desire to deport hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Dreamers generally, plus El Salvadorans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and others specifically, will have a significant negative economic impact on the country.

According to multiple independent studies, the United States stands to lose hundreds of billions of dollars, stagnate its workforce and deplete a wealth of intellectual capital if it pursues proposed deportation goals.

Immigrants pay federal, state and local taxes; buy consumer goods; purchase cars and homes; and create companies and new jobs at a higher rate than the general population, and they have been the fastest contributors to employment growth.

“The impact would stifle economic growth in an attempt to deport people that are legally contributing to the economy,” said U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Javier Palomarez in a letter to Congress earlier this month, referring only to DACA. “The repeal of DACA is a disservice to all Americans and a disaster for the American economy.”

In a letter to Trump last August, the American Council on Education, representing nearly 1,800 of the nation’s colleges and universities, said, “It remains in America’s best interest to enable [Dreamers] to use their knowledge, skills and energy to make the strongest possible contribution to our country.”

Young immigrants “make significant contributions to the scientific and engineering enterprise in the United States,” according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

“Many are studying to become scientists, engineers, medical doctors and entrepreneurs,” said former New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt, who now heads AAAS, in a statement last fall. “Our nation’s immigration policies have profound implications for scientific — as well as humanitarian and economic — interests.”

The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership said, “One crucial, foundational fact is that despite the xenophobic notion that immigrants have a negative impact on the U.S., immigrants in general, but especially DACA recipients, contribute meaningfully to the cultural, intellectual, and economic development of the United States.”

Here are the facts:

  • DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was a 2012 executive order by then President Barack Obama deferring legal action against children brought to the United States by undocumented immigrant parents. The program allows recipients to work or attend school on two-year renewable permits. As of September, the United States was home to approximately 689,000 DACA recipients, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • DACA recipients are disqualified from federal welfare or assistance of any kind, health care tax subsidies, Pell Grants and federal student loans.
  • DACA recipients have undergone background checks and have been found to pose no threat.
  • Trump last fall rescinded DACA, and Congress now has until March 5 to come up with a solution, lest the Dreamers risk being deported back to countries many don’t even know.
  • Nearly 80 percent of Americans support allowing DACA recipients to stay, according to a Quinnipiac poll.
  • Ninety-seven percent of DACA recipients are employed, in school or serving in the military. Seventy-two percent are pursuing higher education.
  • Approximately 8,800 school teachers are DACA recipients.
  • The Center for American Progress estimates that “ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade and remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy.”
  • “Young immigrants eligible for DACA annually contribute $2 billion in state and local taxes, but this number would drop by nearly half without DACA protection,” according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). “Every state stands to lose considerable revenue if we do not maintain the protections and opportunities DACA has allowed.”
  • Employment rates increased by 36 percentage points after enrollment in DACA, from 51 percent of respondents employed to 87 percent, according to national survey of DACA recipients, per ITEP.
  • CAP data indicates that 91 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed. Among respondents age 25 and older, employment jumps to 93 percent.
  • According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, deporting those currently in DACA would cost over $60 billion in lost tax revenue and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
  • A study released last month by the nonpartisan Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) found that 43 percent of the 2017 Fortune 500 were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or child of an immigrant. “The occurrence of first- or second-generation immigrant founders is significantly higher among the largest Fortune 500 companies — accounting for 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35 firms.”
  • According to CAE, firms founded by immigrants “are headquartered in 68 metropolitan areas across 33 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide and accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.”
  • Sixty percent of the top 25 U.S. technology companies by market value were co-founded by first- or second-generation immigrants, according to Kleiner Perkins’ 2017 Internet Trends report.
  • Fifty percent of the most valuable private tech companies in the United States were co-founded by immigrants, per the 2017 Internet Trends report.
  • ITEP found that “5 percent of respondents started their own business after receiving DACA. Among respondents 25 years and older, this climbs to 8 percent. Among the American public as a whole, the rate of starting a business is 3.1 percent, meaning that DACA recipients are outpacing the general population in terms of business creation.”
  • DACA recipients come from around the world, but more than 9 in 10 were born in Latin America, according to Pew Research Center fall 2017 data.
  • Per Pew, 75 percent of DACA recipients live in 20 U.S. metro areas. Forty-five percent live in just two states: California (29 percent) and Texas (16 percent). Illinois (5 percent), New York (5 percent), Florida (4 percent) and Arizona (4 percent) also have significant populations of active DACA recipients.
  • According to CATO, “immigrants are either less crime-prone than natives or have about the same rate of criminality.”
  • DACA recipients are a small part of an estimated 3.6 million undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors who have not qualified for DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

“At a time when our economy is growing and our labor market is extremely tight, these are all folks of working age who have skills to immediately contribute,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told USA Today. “We would be spending billions of dollars to remove folks who have the potential to help the country grow.”

Beyond Just Dreamers

The Trump administration this month said it is ending a program that provides protection to more than 262,000 immigrants from El Salvador currently on Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This follows Haiti’s revocation in November, affecting more than 45,000 Haitian immigrants, and Trump’s revocation for Nicaraguan immigrants last year.

TPS allows individuals to legally live and work in the United States.

Salvadorans were granted TPS protection in 2001, when two massive earthquakes devastated El Salvador. Published reports show many have lived, worked and paid taxes in the U.S. for more than 20 years, and an estimated 190,000 U.S. citizens are the children of these TPS recipients.

The Trump administration says it is now safe for these immigrants to return to their country. However, extreme poverty and high crime in El Salvador have led it to become one of the most violent countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Even a travel advisory issued this month by Trump’s U.S. State Department this month states: “Reconsider travel to El Salvador due to crime. Violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics and arms trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”

“The White House is peddling a fantasy where hundreds of thousands of people who have established their lives, families, and businesses in the U.S. for decades will leave or can be rounded up and deported,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., in a statement.

(Originally published in DiversityInc January 30, 2018.)