Last Tuesday when President Trump ended DACA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed DACA was taking jobs and income away from Americans. However, despite the debate, this is just flatly untrue. Several studies have shown that immigration, both high skilled and low skilled, improves the livelihood of Americans on several fronts – the price of good and services, employment opportunities, and wages among others.
Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, high-skilled and low-skilled, are integral to the fabric of our economy. Data from the Center for American Progress estimates that America would lose $460.3 billion over a decade if working DACA recipients were deported. Professors of Economics Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega at Queens College estimate in their 2016 report that the U.S. would lose $4.7 trillion in gross domestic product by 2026 if all 11 million of our country’s undocumented immigrants were deported.
Immigrants are also a driving force to innovation. In a study published in the American Economic Journal, economists Jennifer Hunt and Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle found that a small-scale increase in in skilled immigration equated to a 10 to 20% increase in patents – symbols of innovation and a thriving economy.
Many Americans are concerned about immigrants taking their jobs or stealing their wages. On the job front, immigrants are both producers and consumers. Every new immigrant produces 1.2 jobs – jobs which go almost exclusively to Americans. High-skilled immigrants create more opportunities with 2.62 jobs created per immigrant. Over the following decade the hiring of one high-skilled immigrant can lead to another 3.5 jobs for Americans according to the Journal of Labor Economics.
If you’re a working parent, you know that the price of child care is a serious issue for parents. Economist Patricia Cortes found that a 10% increase in low-skilled immigration lowers the price of goods and services by 2%. This includes everything from groceries to childcare.
Immigrants are not a drain on social systems as one might be led to believe. Over 90% of DACA recipients work and many have advanced education and training. Undocumented immigrants also contribute 13 times more to Social Security than they take out according the Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary.
Immigrant owned business also generate over 7.5 billion in revenue for the economy according to the Partnership for the New American Economy. More than twice as likely to start businesses, immigrants and their children have founded over 40% of Fortune 500 companies.
On the state and local level, the children of immigrants grow to contribute more to state tax revenue than their parents or even native-born Americans. Immigrants earned $1.3 trillion and contributed $105 billion in state and local taxes and nearly $224 billion in federal taxes in 2014, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. Immigrants are far from a drain on social systems, but vital, contributing members of society.
Although immigrants make up only 13% of our population, they generate 15% of the country’s economic output according to the latest report by the Economic Policy Institute. Rescinding DACA not only cheapens the humanity of thousands of immigrants but has an unsettling effect on our economy. It will be important for congress to find a viable replacement to DACA not only to support the lives of immigrants the program affects but our economy as a well.