Pharr EDC April large leaderboard banner

The clock is ticking on a two-million-job issue: finding a permanent solution to replace Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The DACA program allows individuals who entered the United States as children to remain here for school or work.

Nearly 800,000 persons across the country are enrolled in the program, and approximately 124,300 of these individuals (often called “Dreamers”) live in Texas.

DACA was never intended to be a permanent solution, and it is time for Congress to step up and deal with the situation in a sustainable manner. The Trump Administration’s decision to end the current version of DACA allowed six months for Congressional action to provide a replacement. If no action is taken, the Dreamers will be subject to deportation when work visas in place on March 5, 2018 expire. The problem is that DACA is the result of a 2012 Presidential memorandum, was never intended to be a long-term solution, and was facing significant challenges on legal and other fronts. The economy needs the Dreamers, who are either already working or preparing to do so by attending school.

Given underlying changes in the U.S. workforce, immigrants, both documented and undocumented, will become a more crucial source of labor over time. Even if all currently unemployed persons in Texas filled jobs now held by undocumented workers (which is impossible for myriad reasons), the state would be left with a glaring gap of hundreds of thousands of workers if the undocumented workforce were no longer available. Certain industries are particularly in need of workers and rely on undocumented individuals, and events such as Hurricane Harvey exacerbate the shortage. As fears of deportation rise, it becomes increasingly difficult to access this critical resource.

Apart from the obvious social and human issues associated with removing the DACA recipients, there are very real economic losses that would occur if DACA is allowed to expire. I recently looked at the numbers, quantifying the direct economic benefits of the Dreamers. I also used our impact assessment system to estimate the total gains in business activity they generate including multiplier effects.

For the United States, direct benefits of Dreamers each year include an estimated $84.3 billion in output (gross product), $52.8 billion in personal income and almost 685,200 jobs. When multiplier effects are considered, the total benefits rise to $188.6 billion in output and $117.3 billion in income per year as well as nearly 2.1 million jobs.

For Texas, the direct gains in business activity associated with the Dreamers include an estimated $11.5 billion in output (gross product) and $7.2 billion in income each year in addition to more than 108,100 jobs. When multiplier effects are included, the total rises to $25.8 billion in annual output, $16.0 billion in income per year, and 324,000 jobs.

The economic consequences go beyond these numbers. Uncertainty related to DACA causes notable other problems, both for the individuals involved and for those interacting with them (such as potential employers). Furthermore, there are also people who are undocumented entirely, with even more challenges such as being unable to start a business, buy an airplane ticket, or obtain a checking account. Although the issues related to immigration are complex, economic benefits of this magnitude should not be ignored in the conversation regarding immigration reform.

Recently, some members of Congress have announced that they are tying their votes on the appropriations bill needed to fund the federal government past December 31 to the inclusion of a DACA fix. While a solution is imperative, so too is avoiding a government shutdown. The deadline for DACA is in March, and this may not be the time to play politics on passing the appropriations bill. No good can come out of a failure to act to fund the government (but that’s a topic for another day).

Rational immigration reform is clearly needed, and solving the problem facing Dreamers can be an important first step. The immigrant workforce is critical to long-term prosperity in the United States and in Texas, particularly given the aging of the population and slowing of workforce growth. In addition, immigrants (including undocumented immigrants) generate substantial business activity through consumer spending and other activity. Millions of jobs are at stake, and Congress needs to work together to replace DACA with a permanent solution.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column in courtesy of PBS.

VBMC – Ortho: Large Leaderboard

4 COMMENTS

  1. The U.S. currently has eleven non immigrant guest worker visa programs.
    http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/employment/temporary.html

    There is no cap on the number of workers allowed into the U.S. under the H-2A temporary agricultural guest worker visa program.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/263529-funding-deal-hits-backlash-over-increase-in-worker-visas
    “The provision could more than triple the number of H-2B visas for foreign workers seeking jobs at hotels, theme parks, ski resorts, golf courses, landscaping businesses, restaurants and bars. The move is intended to boost the supply of non-agricultural seasonal workers.”

    http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Resources%20for%20Congress/Congressional%20Reports/2011%20National%20Immigration%20%26%20Consular%20Conference%20Presentations/H-2A_and_H-2B_Visas.pdf

    Alabama had to bite the bullet and hire LEGAL Immigrants for its AG Industry:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-09-24/africans-relocate-to-alabama-to-fill-jobs-after-immigration-law
    Africans Relocate to Alabama to Fill Jobs After Immigration Law

    “East Coast began calling Atlanta refugee agencies several months ago looking for legal immigrants to come to Alabama for a year, said Mbanfu, refugee employment director for Lutheran Services in Atlanta. He said the company would have taken as many refugees as he could refer. The agency connected East Coast with refugees who had been in the country three to five years, he said.”

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2009-09-13-plants_N.htm
    Immigration raids yield jobs for legal workers

    ‘When federal agents descended on six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co. in December 2006, they rounded up nearly 1,300 suspected illegal immigrants that made up about 10% of the labor force at the plants.

    But the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents did not cripple the company or the plants. In fact, they were back up and running at full staff within months by replacing those removed with a significant number of native-born Americans, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

    “Whenever there’s an immigration raid, you find white, black and legal immigrant labor lining up to do those jobs that Americans will supposedly not do,” said Swain, who teaches law and political science.”

    http://bangordailynews.com/2017/04/28/business/amid-foreign-worker-shortage-bar-harbor-businesses-turn-to-local-labor/
    Amid foreign worker shortage, Bar Harbor businesses turn to local labor

  2. The Liberal Case AGAINST Illegal Immigration:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/25/the-liberal-case-against-illegal-immigration.html

    This is the Progressive Case AGAINST Illegal Immigration:

    http://www.salon.com/2015/03/01/the_1_percents_immigration_con_how_big_business_adds_to_income_inequality_pits_workers_against_each_other/

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/notes-on-immigration/
    The Conscience Of A Liberal–Paul Krugman

    “First, the benefits of immigration to the population already here are small.
    ” But as Mr. Hanson explains in his paper, reasonable calculations suggest that we’re talking about very small numbers, perhaps as little as 0.1 percent of GDP.

    “My second negative point is that immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand…

    “Finally, the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear. ”

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DEFDC1430F934A15750C0A9609C8B63

    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/immigrants-different-audacity-hope/2014/11/17/id/607937/
    Report: Obama’s Book Says Illegals Can Hurt Americans

    http://beforeitsnews.com/opinion-conservative/2014/11/didnt-anyone-in-the-hispanic-media-read-obamas-book-2936030.html
    Didn’t anyone in the Hispanic media read Obama’s book? Or listen to when he speaks?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idvRtDDPl_4
    Barack Obama in his own words from “The Audacity of Hope”
    – Illegal Immigration hurts Black Americans and Blue Collared Workers

    Video Not Working? I wonder why?!? Here’s an Audio Link:
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/16/shock-flashback-obama-says-illegal-immigration-hurts-blue-collar-americans-strains-welfare-video/

  3. An Atlantic Monthly article that shows that most economists’ thinking that an increased influx of immigrants provides more jobs for Americans is FALSE and does harm jobs for US workers and the economy:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/does-immigration-harm-working-americans/384060/

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DEFDC1430F934A15750C0A9609C8B63

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/notes-on-immigration/
    The Conscience Of A Liberal–Paul Krugman

    “First, the benefits of immigration to the population already here are small.”
    ” But as Mr. Hanson explains in his paper, reasonable calculations suggest that we’re talking about very small numbers, perhaps as little as 0.1 percent of GDP.

    “My second negative point is that immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand…

    “Finally, the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear. ”

    Also, it is patently untrue that “immigrants” are the solution to low rate of start-ups:

    http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/01/immigration-reform-declining-start-rate.html