As Aug. 15 marked the fifth anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) by the Obama Administration, many recipients remain uncertain of their DACA security under the Trump Administration. The attorneys general from 10 states notified the Trump Administration that if it does not phase out DACA renewals and disband the program by Sept. 5, they will challenge DACA in its entirety in a pending case in Texas District Court.
Since its inception, DACA’s approximately 800,000 recipients have received work permits and higher education opportunities. Proponents of DACA maintain that DACA recipients are a valuable part of our national and local economies. They hold positions such as teachers, nurses, physicians and serve in the military.
Proponents also maintain DACA recipients contribute to the economy due to the issuance of work permits. The income earned due to the permits gives recipients a chance to buy new homes, new cars, and other goods.
According to the United We Dream (“UWD”) survey conducted in 2015, DACA positively impacted the recipients both economically and educationally. The study showed 27.8 percent of respondents had completed two or four-year postsecondary school.
UWD acknowledged that its postsecondary survey percentage is higher than the 2014 Migration Policy Institute survey, which showed an eight percent completion rate. However, UWD attributed the difference to its active engagement with DACA recipients who were tracking toward higher education.
The UWD survey also showed that over 80 percent of DACA recipients were employed, with the respondents indicating that because of DACA, they are more confident they will achieve their career goals. For example, 23.5 percent aspire to work in the healthcare field, and 6.5 percent want to work in the social services field or the computer and mathematical field, as a computer technician or software developer.
The 2016 New Study of DACA Beneficiaries survey findings were consistent with UWD’s 2015 study. The 2016 study found that DACA recipients continued to make significant and direct contributions to the state and local economies by buying cars and first homes. These purchases then generated state and local tax revenue.
For example, when a DACA recipient bought a new car with the average price of $24,307.00, the state tax collected ranges from three to six percent, depending on the state. The registration and title fees were also collected at the time of licensing, providing another source of revenue.
The 2016 survey noted that 12 percent of respondents purchased their first home after receiving their DACA permit at an average cost of $167,596. According to the National Association of Realtors, the purchase of two homes generates one job, with 1,000 home sales creating 500 jobs.
The survey also found that six percent of respondents started businesses, creating jobs and contributing to the economic growth of their locality. One respondent, a business owner who employed nine people, told the surveyor that he hopes to “hire [even] more people from the community.”
Broken down by job sector, the 2016 survey showed that 21 percent of DACA recipients worked in educational and health services. 11 percent worked with non-profit organizations. Nine percent worked in wholesale or retail and eight percent were in the professional or business sector.
Janet Napolitano, former attorney general and governor of Arizona, U.S. secretary of homeland security, and now president of the University of California agreed that DACA provides a boost to the economy, specifically in those states with a high percentage of immigrants.
“Dreamers pay taxes. Nearly 55 percent of them have bought cars. Some 12 percent have bought homes, and six percent have launched businesses that create jobs for U.S. citizens. They provide direct economic benefit to our communities and the nation as a whole,” Napolitano wrote in an opinion letter to The Washington Post.
Napolitano recalled her time as the secretary of homeland security when the initial DACA applications were being accepted.
“I will never forget that day: Tens of thousands of some of the best and brightest young people in our county applied to the programs and celebrated their ability to live, work and learn in the only nation most of them had ever known,” she wrote.