Released 12 June 2017  By Ambar Pardilla - POLITICO
Trump’s deportations of Dreamers could usher in new economic, legal woes
Ambar Pardilla - POLITICO
President Donald Trump has made conflicting comments about the status of
undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children. And if he
does decide to dissolve the Obama-era program that provided some
protections for them, there could be economic and legal complications
across the country.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA,
offers some undocumented immigrants the opportunity to receive a
renewable two-year deferment on deportation and temporary work
authorization. Despite his criticism of DACA during his presidential
campaign, Trump told The Associated Press in April that Dreamers, as
recipients are known, should “rest easy.” His administration, however,
has deported dozens of previously protected Dreamers.
Now, the fate of the more than 760,000 people who have permission to
stay in the U.S. under DACA remains uncertain.
“The administration is going after a lot of different people. People
with DACA, people who had DACA, people with no criminal convictions,
people who have been here for a very long time,” said Kate Voigt, the
associate director of liaison at the American Immigration Lawyers
Association. “It’s really part of this administration’s efforts to ramp
up its deportation force.”
If Trump were to dismantle the program, Dreamers could be forced into
limited, lower-wage jobs. Turning promising white-collar workers into
possible blue-collar workers could create challenges for the other
Americans competing for those jobs, said Ike Brannon, a visiting fellow
at the Cato Institute who has researched the consequences of repealing
“It’s kind of ironic,” Brannon said. “He [Trump] might actually be
creating the scenario that he’s trying to stop.”
The potential end of the program could cost the federal government more
money and reduce Dreamers’ contributions to the economy.
A January report from the Cato Institute, co-authored by Brannon,
estimated that the deportation of current Dreamers could cost the
government $60 billion and cause a $280 billion decline in economic
growth within a decade. The report also said the repeal or rollback of
the program could result in a loss in tax revenue.
An Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy report from April found
that continuing the program and ensuring that those who are eligible are
enrolled could increase estimated state and local revenue by $425
million. The same report predicted that revoking the provisional status
and work permission of DACA recipients could reduce estimated state and
local revenues by approximately $800 million.
For the states with the most Dreamers, the end of the program could have
significant economic consequences, studies show. California leads the
nation in the number of initial DACA recipients with 216,060, followed
by 120,642 in Texas and 41,256 in Illinois, according to a Pew study.
A January study from Center for American Progress, a progressive think
tank, estimated that if workers covered under DACA were to lose their
work authorization and jobs, the U.S. GDP could be reduced by $433.4
billion in the following decade.
Doubts surrounding the future of DACA already have started affecting the
economy, with people not enrolling in the program because of the
process’ expense and recipients not renewing their status, said Sen.
Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“These are people who don’t know other countries, many of them, who have
no memory of their home nation,” Booker said. “It’s just a stunning
undermining of their ability to contribute to the country they know and
A CAP survey from October of last year found that DACA recipients work
in many different sectors of the economy, with 21 percent of respondents
reporting that they work in educational and health services, followed by
11 percent in the nonprofit sector and 9 percent in wholesale and
“Their ability to now work legally has meant that they’ve been able to
be more economically productive and create more economic growth for the
areas that they live in,” said Philip E. Wolgin, the managing director
of immigration policy at CAP and one of the co-authors of the survey.
The survey showed that the purchasing power of Dreamers rose as
respondents were able to buy new and used cars, allowing states to
collect sales taxes, and their first homes.
But for those who oppose DACA, the program creates more problems for
American workers rather than resolving divisions in the economy.
Ira Mehlman, media director at the Federation for American Immigration
Reform, which pushes for a decrease in immigration, said that Dreamers
create competition within the labor market that “is an unnecessary,
additional impediment for other people who are seeking those same
“The economy adjusted to the presence of large numbers of people who are
working here illegally,” Mehlman said. “It can also adjust to their
Along with the possible economic effects of terminating DACA, there
could be court challenges if the administration continues its policy of
In an emailed statement, Steve Blando, a spokesperson for U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services, said, “USCIS is still
accepting/processing DACA requests under existing policy.”
The federal government has deported at least 43 Dreamers since Trump
took office, leading to court challenges. A lawsuit from Juan Manuel
Montes, a 23-year-old deported Dreamer, raises questions about the
protection DACA recipients have under the administration.
“There’s no legal grounds for a DACA beneficiary to say he shouldn’t be
deported,” said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for
Immigration Studies, which supports cutting down on immigration. “It
doesn’t mean the ACLU won’t file bogus lawsuits.”
More legal challenges are possible if the administration disregards the
work authorizations under the program before they expire, said Daniel
Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic
Costa added that despite the potential consequences, the government
remain “in an OK position legally speaking.”
Dreamers, and those who represent them, say they will continue to fight.
Greisa Martinez, a Dreamer and advocacy director of United We Dream, an
immigrant youth-led organization, remains skeptical about the intentions
of Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump, toward the
“To be clear with Representative Ryan, with Trump, and other Republican
leadership: They can’t say that they love the Dreamers and that we
should rest easy at the same time that they’re allowing ICE agents and
CBP to deport us,” Martinez said.
“We’re not going to be thrown back into the shadows,” Martinez said. “We
have come too far and we’re not going to turn around.”