Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA, also known as the “DREAM” Act) was implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012. This federal program was designed to protect and support children that grew up undocumented in the United States. DACA recipients, or “Dreamers,” are students, employees and an important part of local communities. On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced a plan to repeal DACA. The DACA repeal will mean declining new DACA permits and not allowing existing permits to be renewed. This could lead to 800,000 people being deported.
Anti-immigration rhetoric is often centered around immigrants taking jobs, but doesn’t address the necessity for those jobs to be filled. To be eligible for DACA, applicants had to be under 31, brought to the U.S. before they were 16, and in the United States since 2007. This makes the majority of the DACA recipients prime working age, or students. With so many Dreamers in the work force, the repeal poses a threat for the United States economy. Ending DACA would reduce the United States GPD by $433.4 billion over 10 years and remove 685,000 individuals from the workforce. These jobs need to be filled; sudden deportation of so many workers would be detrimental to the American economy.
There are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States, 19,000 of whom are in Washington State. Nearly three-quarters of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ Dreamers. Prominent business leaders signed an open letter discussing the importance of Dreamers in our local businesses and calling for reconsideration of the repeal. Seattle’s own Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson stated that “Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”
One common argument against DACA is that Dreamers don’t pay taxes; this has proven to be false. The DACA-eligible population earns nearly $19.9 billion in total income yearly. They contribute $1.4 billion to federal taxes, and $1.6 billion to state and local taxes. This population has approximately $16.8 billion in spending power. Their impact is undeniable: 90% of Dreamers are currently employed, 65% reported buying their first car and about 16% purchased their first home. Dreamers are heavily integrated into our country’s economy and culture – deporting such a impactful and productive group hurts our economy.
DACA is projected to be repealed within six months. This means that after March 5, 2018, recipients will no longer be able to renew their DACA permit. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will not accept a renewed application after October 5th.
In Seattle, various local organizations are teaming up to support Dreamers. Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs are partnering with community organizations to aid Dreamers with the renewal process. A DACA renewal fee scholarship and zero percent interest loans are available to those who don’t have the means to pay the fee. The Northwest Immigrants’ Rights Project is offering information and resources on the DACA renewal process, and Seattle’s Refugee Women’s Alliance are is holding a DACA Renewal Assistance workshop on Friday, September 29.
Dreamers looking for support can contact the organizations listed above. Non-DACA recipients can aid Dreamers by supporting local organizations and referring Dreamers to the resources available. Dreamers are productive members of society and deserve to be here—if the presidential administration has its way, these people may have to leave the only home they know. Seattle stands with Dreamers.