What if someone told you that by the stroke of a presidential pen, the United States was set to lose at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product over the course of a decade? Would that be a good policy, or even a prudent economic decision? According to a recent study from the Center for American Progress, that’s how much it would cost if Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was eliminated.
Nearly 750,000 people have been granted DACA by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS). DACA has provided many with opportunities that were not available before, including enriching their minds in college, finding gainful employment and providing financially for their families, and paying taxes. DACA has not only been a boon for individuals and their communities, but also for businesses. Since the election, I have personally spoken to several business owners that do not want to see the end of this program and would suffer if they had to lay off critical employees.
With less than 60 days until President-elect Trump’s inauguration, DACA may be on life support, but we should all work to keep it in existence. Thus far, all signs point to a rescinding of President Obama’s executive action which created the DACA initiative. Such a move would be cruel and inhumane. To suddenly strip well-deserving individuals from having a benefit such as a work authorization card is wrong. The people who applied for DACA had to provide copious amounts of criteria-related documentation, undergo stringent background checks, and provide biometric data to USCIS. For many, DACA was not a simple process, and the program has gone through many growing pains since its inception in 2012.
The educational community has been outspoken, calling on President-elect Trump to keep DACA intact. Now it is time for the business community to speak up as well. For most, DACA is all these individuals have. Most are not eligible to apply for a green card, nor do they have a quick path to fix their immigration status. If you have DACA-approved employees, please consider reaching out to your local Chamber of Commerce and other organizations about this important program. If you are a Chamber of Commerce and realize the economic benefits that DACA provides for your local businesses, please work with them, and together go talk to your Senators and Representatives about saving the DACA initiative. Time is of the essence.
Written by Maurice Goldman, Chair, AILA Media Advocacy Committee