The Real Economics Behind DACA

Among the most outrageous, unfounded claims made in response to Trump’s repeal of DACA, the most prominent one remains: immigrants steal “our” jobs. Immigrants hurt our economy. By deporting immigrants, more jobs will be available to “real” Americans. But is this really the case? Do immigrants really steal jobs, and will the repeal of DACA really improve our economy as much as conservatives claim? As research provided by both the left and right wings show, the answer is no — not at all.

During the White House’s press meeting this past Tuesday, Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders revived the claim that immigrants steal jobs from Americans. “It’s a known fact that there are over 4 million unemployed Americans in the same age group as those that are DACA recipients; that over 950,000 of those are African Americans in the same age group; over 870,000 unemployed Hispanics in the same age group,” Sanders said. “Those are large groups of people that are unemployed that could possibly have those jobs.”

Protesters next to Trump Tower (Via Flickr)

However, evidence shows that most immigrants who come to America for job opportunities have little luck earning jobs most desired by Americans. Most Americans have at least a high school diploma, if not a college degree. This, of course, provides them with enough education to get hired at an institution that isn’t part-time or menial labor; a job that isn’t in fast-food or customer service. Main point: immigrants, who typically don’t have as much of an education as Americans, often take the jobs Americans don’t want. According to Brookings, “the impact of immigrant labor on the wages of native-born workers is low… However, undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, backbreaking jobs that native-born workers are not willing to do.”

In fact, immigration is vital to a booming economy. Again from Brookings, “…while immigrants represent about 15 percent of the general U.S. workforce, they account for around a quarter of entrepreneurs and a quarter of investors in the U.S. and that over one-third of new firms have at least one immigrant entrepreneur in its initial leadership team.” Indeed, immigrants create jobs, not steal them. By deporting immigrants, we’d lose the job opportunities created by them; causing a decline in the economy overall. The Brookings article continues, “[B]y cutting on immigration, the country will miss an opportunity for new inventions and ventures that could generate the jobs that the president is so committed to bring back. Thus, if the current administration wants to create jobs and ‘make America great again,’ it should consider enlisting more migrants.”

In conclusion, we’ve covered how immigrants — legal or not — prove to be a vital part of America’s economy. They create employment opportunities and work the jobs most Americans don’t opt for: menial tasks such as farming or construction. An argument one may propose regarding DACA, however, is that most recipients of the program do in fact have a college education. For that reason, are they really stealing jobs from Americans? The answer remains the same: no. Immigrants earn a job over an American simply because they are more qualified. The Washington Post reports, “Many DACA recipients are also more skilled than other immigrants because they possess a college education, so they don’t compete with low-skilled Americans.

Indeed, an American Action Forum study reported that if all undocumented immigrants were to be deported, there wouldn’t be enough American workers to fill all of the newly open jobs. In fact, even if all available Americans filled the open slots, the country would still be short 4 million workers.

DACA Repeal protest in LA, 9/5/17 (Via Flickr)

Furthermore, recent research shows that ending DACA would not only harm the economy by creating a lack of immigrant-born jobs and labor, but also by straining the pockets of America. According to a new study by the Center for American Progress, the loss of workers here under DACA could cost America $460.3 billion in economic output over the next decade. Fortune explains:

Ending DACA would place severe economic strain on businesses around the country, putting them into the impossible and extremely costly position of having to fire productive employees for no other reason than an arbitrary change in federal policy, potentially resulting in backlash from other employees, or their broader community.”-Fortune.com

Clearly, it would cost the economy more to deport immigrants and end DACA in America than it would to simply keep the program or, at the very least, implement a replacement that would serve the same purposes, such as the DREAM Act.

Overall, DACA is an important program in America for a plethora of reasons, but it seems that all conservatives want to argue about is that immigrants are stealing their jobs, and that illegal immigration ruins our economy. The fact is, however, that immigrants — legal or otherwise — make America’s economy. If we were to deport the 800,000 immigrants protected under DACA, our economy would die in seconds.

To support the DREAM Act, get in touch with your representatives here.

Featured Image Via Flickr

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Mikayla is a rising high school Junior. She adores reading, writing, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and binge-watching The Office. When she’s not in school, she works for a nonprofit that promotes literacy in underfunded neighborhoods. She is an editor for Affinity’s Mental Health section, as well as for We The Ppl, a podcast dedicated to making politics accessible for youth.

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