September 26, 2012
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Governor Brewer:
On August 15, 2012, you issued an Executive Order which barred those individuals eligible for Deferred Action (DACA) from obtaining driver’s licenses or other state benefits. After a fiscal analysis, I can only conclude that this decision was based upon your personal vendetta against President Barack Obama. Besides having no basis in federal or state law to issue this executive order, your policy will cost the state and businesses millions of dollars.
Had you or your advisors conducted an unbiased cost-benefit analysis, you would have likely concluded that this program will have a profoundly positive impact on a number of industries in our state, along with making our streets safer and saving Arizona resident’s money. Before I go any further, I must confess that I am no economist and my calculations may be considered rudimentary to some, but it will definitely make logical sense.
Let’s start from the basics: There is an estimated 50,000-80,000 individuals in Arizona who will qualify for DACA. A driver’s license for applicants age 16-39 is $25.00. Using the low-end estimate of individuals, which would mean the state is bound to earn $1.25 million in driver license fees. Let me add that these individuals will only get work permission from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for two years and then have to apply for renewals. That means the state will collect $1.25 million, or more, every two years!
In order to qualify for work permission under DACA, all applicants will have to undergo a strict vetting process by DHS. Candidates who will qualify must undergo background checks, been physically present in the United States for at least five years, and provide clear evidence that they have either completed high school or are currently in school. Many have already taken college courses or completed their post-secondary schooling. Therefore, we are talking about a class of individuals that are educated and will provide a benefit to the lagging Arizona economy. Rather than taking jobs from U.S. citizens, they will help expand the growth of businesses and spend their hard-earned money in the state.
Who else is bound to gain from the issuance of drivers licenses to DACA grantees? Insurances companies, car dealers, gas stations, automotive service stations, car washes, and pretty much any business that is not near a bus stop. Arizona is not exactly known for its excellent public transportation systems. Therefore, getting from point A to point B can be difficult without an automobile. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), one in eight Arizona drivers are uninsured. According to IRC, Arizona has the fifth highest percentage of uninsured motorists at 22% of the population. Insurance companies are bound to gain more customers and benefit their businesses when new drivers can either lease or purchase cars. There will be a trickle-down benefit to gas stations, tire and brake repair, and many other related industries.
The economic benefits to DACA are considerable and I have attached a report from the Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Council, which provides raw data of these benefits. This includes tax benefits, expansion of investments, more spending and an increased incentive to fulfill educational goals. Nobody loses from this program and the state is missing a golden opportunity. This program only helps a narrow group of persons and, contrary to what you believe, will not be a magnet for others to enter the country without documentation.
Assuming you have made it to this point in my letter and your eyes are not completely glazed over, I want to make a final legal point. There is no doubt that the state is bound to lose money in litigation costs, and ultimately will lose in the courts, as your policy conflicts with state law and the federal REAL ID Act. More wasted money on behalf of taxpayers, more image problems and less tourism.
In order to function in society we must compromise, and sometimes make decisions that are against our core beliefs. I believe that your advisors are misleading you on the issue of immigration and particularly in the benefits of this DACA program. The benefits of this program to our state far outweigh the costs that we will incur if your executive order remains in place. Therefore, with the utmost respect, I ask that you lift this executive order and allow the economic boon that this program will bring to our state to become a reality.
Thank you and God bless America.
Written by: Mo Goldman, AILA Media-Advocacy Committee