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An Economic Case for DACA



This week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Trump Administration cannot cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, allowing Dreamers to remain living and working in the United States without fear of deportation, at least for the time being. The program was created under the Obama Administration in 2012. In order to qualify for DACA, individuals had to meet certain requirements

To be clear, while the Supreme Court ruling does allow the DACA program to continue, the decision was not based upon the legality of the program itself; the decision is based upon how the Trump Administration rescinded the program. In other words, if the Trump Administration wants to follow the proper steps to dismantle DACA, then it would be allowable: "The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew. ... The basic rule here is clear: An agency must defend its actions based on the reasons it gave when acted. This is not the case for cutting corners to allow DHS to rely upon reasons absent from its original decision" (Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, 29).

Politics aside, it is clear that American businesses have a vested interest in maintaining the DACA program. When the case was argued in October 2019, Apple filed an amicus brief in support of the Dreamers. Days later, one hundred forty-three companies (including Starbucks, IBM, Google, Amazon, and Verizon) filed another amicus brief arguing that an end to DACA would "inflict serious harm on U.S. companies, all workers, and the American economy as a whole" (Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California. Brief of 143 Business Associations and Companies as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, 3).

There are currently 1.3 million DACA-eligible people in the United States. Approximately 800,000 people have enrolled in the program. The DACA enrollees collectively earned nearly $19.9 billion in 2015 and $23.4 billion in 2017. Furthermore, in 2017, 93.3% of DACA-eligible people were employed in 2017. For more information on their economic impact, read "Overcoming the Odds: The Contributions of DACA-Eligible Immigrants and TPS Holders to the U.S. Economy" from the New American Economy.

By definition of the program, the DACA population is young, meaning most of them have not yet reached their full earning potential. In light of this, it only stands to reason that their economic impact will continue to grow and will be wide-reaching. The inclusion of this group, which by definition must at least hold a GED or high school diploma, will only continue to raise the level of talent in the pool--something from which we will all benefit.

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