What Is Right Is (Also) What Is Best for the United States…

…according to Sayra Lozano, a DACA recipient and MBA student at Southeastern University. Her article was published in the Miami Herald last Friday. Perhaps I was impressed by what she wrote because the point of her article is one that I have made many times. Allowing the dreamers to obtain permanent residence is good for our economy.

In March, I wrote a blog entitled DACA, the “Dream Act” and its latest iteration, “Recognizing America’s Children Act.” That blog provides background information on DACA and one version of the Dream Act. I won’t repeat that information here but if you wish to read it, it can be found here.

There is much discussion about how to handle undocumented aliens in the U.S. and some focus almost exclusively on the undocumented status and don’t think we should be “rewarding” people for entering the U.S. without proper documentation. The dreamers were brought to the U.S. as young children and had no choice or responsibility for their undocumented status so this argument make no sense when talking about “rewarding law breakers.”

Dreamers are young people who have been raised and educated in the U.S. In many cases, these young people do not even remember living anywhere else or even speak anything other than English. Some of them do not even realize that they are not U.S. citizens until their friends start applying for learner’s permits and they find themselves unable to obtain a driver’s license or a part time job during high school. Those who received DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) have been given temporary status and work permission using this status to work, go to college and serve in the military. But DACA was a temporary fix which has been cancelled by President Trump. If Congress does not act before the March 5, 2018 deadline, the DACA recipients – whether they are working, in school or in the military – could be removed (deported) to countries they don’t even remember.

People don’t often consider the U.S. economy is forming their opinions about what should be done with the dreamers. Most people understand that we should do the right thing and allow these young people to continue to live in the country that has become their home. Those who disagree focus on the “undocumented status” without thinking about the economy and the economic harm that would result to Florida and the U.S. if we ripped dreamers out of the workforce. Many Americans believe that the presence of unauthorized immigrants is a financial burden that is harmful to the economy but the economic research indicates the opposite.

The Cato Institute issued a report on January 19, 2017, The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Repealing DACA, which was a scholarly and well researched report. This report concludes that the “fiscal cost of immediately deporting the approximately 750,00 people currently in the DACA program would be over $60 billion to the federal government along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade. The Cato institute report refers to a 2016 study in the Journal of Public Economics, which outlines the benefits of moving immigrants into employment from either outside the formal labor force or unemployment. By working and earning a higher income in the formal sector the “DACA workers’ pay more taxes, both through payroll, income, and sales because of greater consumption associated with higher income.” Having the ability to earn higher levels of education adds even more to the positive fiscal effect. The loss of the positive fiscal effect of DACA is even more significant when you consider that the cost to the government to deport these young people would be $7.5 billion.

Congress is currently considering the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream Act). The dreamers have been raised in the U.S. from an early age and are American in all ways except from having official documentation. Creating a legal pathway for the young dreamers is clearly an issue in which our humanitarian concerns can be justified by the significant positive economic impact to the U.S. or as Sayra Lozano says “What is right for the dreamers is what is best for the state of Florida and the Country.”

Please contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to vote for the DREAM Act.

Linda M Kaplan