Resolving DACA: The Costs of Bargaining over Immigrants' Lives (cont.)

Since the Trump Administration has made immigration reform a top priority, the American Dream is open only to a select few. Deporting all Dreamers would cost the United States roughly $21 billion. But the long-term economic loss is far greater, an estimated $460 billion in economic output over the next 10 years, according to the Center for American Progress. Deportation would reduce the U.S. annual Gross Domestic Product by $27.9 billion, as 30,000 jobs a month are lost. Hardest hit would be California, with an $11.3 billion loss. Other losses include $6.1 billion in Texas, $1.5 billion in New Jersey (where 18,027 DACA workers live), $2.2 billion in Illinois, $1.4 billion in Florida, $1.3 billion in Arizona, $1.2 billion in North Carolina, $1.1 billion in Washington, $1 billion in Georgia, and $.8 billion in Colorado.

The stakes are high, complicated by the Democrats and the Republicans in the Trump Administration using Dreamers as a political bargaining chip in the battle over immigration reform as the March deadline to extend DACA approached. Congressional leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate are at odds over President Trump’s tough stance on immigration reform. Republicans want $54 billion added to the defense budget and billions more for a border wall. Democrats are open to increased border security, but not border wall construction.  Democrats contend that mmigration issues, including establishing a diversity lottery, can be discussed within the context of a comprehensive plan to grant temporary residency and a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants within six years. 

In the meantime, as their work permits begin to expire, Dreamers will no longer be able to legally work in the U.S.  Businesses will be forced to fire them. Dreamers will head back to the black market, driving uninsured vehicles with invalid driver’s licenses, and performing exploitative work with no protections.

The United States has always been great. It boasts the world’s largest economy, opportunity and unparalleled freedoms. In the U.S. especially, one can succeed in anything you set one’s mind to do. Immigrants have always been a critical component in the country’s global success.  Most Americans agree that it’s time to stop using some of our greatest assets as bargaining chips and give the Dreamers the tools to make the American Dream a reality.