On DACA’s 5th Anniversary, Uncertainty Looms

A protestor at a defend DACA rally held in Oregon in February. (Photo courtesy of Joe Frazier)

Today, August 15, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program celebrates five years of being in effect. It has been a much-needed lifeline for young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. DACA grants a temporary reprieve from deportation, as well as work authorization, to those who qualify.

Through DACA, nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America have been able to fulfill their dreams and more fully give back to the country they call home, without fear of deportation.

But with the fifth anniversary also comes a climate of uncertainty for DACA recipients. The future of DACA is under serious threat from a coordinated assault led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and state officials in nine other states. They have issued a deadline of September 5 to the Trump administration to rescind DACA or face the pending legal challenge from the 10 states. With support from figures like Jeff Sessions, these attorney generals might push the president into ending the vital program.

Ending DACA would be an economic disaster for America, as evidenced in the report issued by the Center for American Progress. It gives state-by-state overview of information and overview on number of DACA recipients by state.

The costs of ending DACA are immense, not only the personal toll on nearly one million individuals and their families, but also the potential damage to our country’s economic engine.

Ending DACA and kicking recipients out of the labor force would cost the United States $433.4 billion in GDP and decrease Social Security and Medicare contributions by $24.6 billion over the next decade. Every state in the U.S. would feel the economic harms from ending DACA. Through this employment, DACA has broadened the payroll tax base, increasing Social Security and Medicare contributions.

No matter how you look at it, DACA has been a successful program on both humanitarian and economic grounds. It has enabled its beneficiaries to contribute more to the economy and the treasury, without imposing any net costs on the federal government. In the absence of a legislative solution, DACA recipients should continue to be protected from deportation.

We need the president to protect DACA and Dreamers. These Dreamers are our neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, and family members. And, we need every single member of Congress to co-sponsor legislation that would allow Dreamers to work and live in the U.S. and demand a vote on the floor of the House and Senate.

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