“Federal Judge rules that DACA is illegal.”
As I read that recent headline, survivor’s guilt washed over me. My case had been approved just three weeks before the judge’s ruling—among just 3 percent of first-time DACA applications approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since President Biden reinstated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in January.
The judge’s DACA decision has far-reaching implications: thousands of families will lose hope and be used as political pawns, their lives and communities forever changed. Yet Congress is not likely to save us Dreamers, since partisanship has poisoned its walls to the point of collapse.
Instead, DACA’s fate will most likely be decided by the Supreme Court. And when that day comes, the Court should uphold DACA for the sake of the nation’s future economic growth.
Economic prosperity should trump partisan values. Moreover, the potential effects on the economy should cause sirens to go off in Republicans’ heads. If they are truly the party of business, now is the time to prove it.
First, eliminating DACA will create preventable wage competition against other American workers.
The undocumented immigrants who are eligible for DACA may no longer be allowed to receive a work permit, but they still need to work. And work they will.
Since they cannot participate in the labor market legally, they will compete for the so-called “low-skilled” jobs usually reserved for uneducated Americans. Additionally, employers who hire undocumented workers under the table don’t abide by minimum wage laws. Undocumented workers will accept wages lower than minimum wage or market wages—thereby forcing the overall market wage lower for all Americans who are competing for these jobs.
Upholding DACA would prevent unnecessary competition over low-skilled jobs and protect the overall wages of U.S. citizens.
It is accepted among policymakers that to remain competitive among advanced economies, the U.S. must train, retain, and attract as many workers as possible.
Allowing hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to work legally in the U.S. will have a net positive effect on the economy: consumer confidence will go up, GDP will rise, and businesses will have higher profits, thus creating more investing and innovation opportunities.
The Supreme Court should allow DACA-eligible immigrants to pursue education and training and to participate in the labor market. This will all contribute to long-term economic stability for all Americans. After all, the Cato Institute has estimated that from 2018-2028, DACA recipients would contribute $90 billion in tax revenue and an extra $350 billion to the economy.
Most important, every DACA-eligible immigrant who is denied the opportunity to work is being systematically kept poor. This inhibits the chances of overall job creation.
If you’re not buying this logic, I ask you to consider one question raised to me by Marty Morris, chief of staff to the late Senator Richard Lugar: “Has a poor man ever given you a job?”
When undocumented workers who are granted DACA are given the chance to work, the likelihood that they’ll save money to invest or begin a business increases exponentially. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that these individuals may help create jobs for U.S. citizens.
As I mentioned: of eligible DACA applicants, just 3 percent were approved before a federal judge slammed the door on more applications. That means 97 of 100 potential workers cannot contribute legally to the U.S. economy.
This absurd scenario is what is happening with DACA. To provide the greatest benefit to the most Americans, DACA must be upheld by the Supreme Court. Until then, America is foregoing economic prosperity for the sake of partisan politics.
One would have to turn a blind eye to not see the opportunity at hand.
Jeremy Carballo Pineda is a rising senior at Duke University studying political science and public policy. He is currently a Research Fellow at Democracy NC.
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