President Donald Trump has made the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which affects 800,000 immigrant children. As of 2012, DACA protects children as they enter the country from the average age of six to under 31.
Participants of DACA typically have to renew their status every two years, but the program gave children the chance to earn a degree and make a living in the United States. With the Trump ad- ministration ending DACA, a large portion of the workforce, particularly in the health care sector, are going to be left with a much lower supply of labor.
This past summer, 10 Republican state attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia threatened to sue Trump if he did not rescind the DACA program. If the Trump administration did not end the DACA program by Sept. 5, the attorneys general of the aforementioned states were going to file a legal challenge in a Texas federal court. Trump has received a large amount of backlash since first announcing his administration wanted to end DACA. Since then, Trump has changed his stance, opting instead to wind down the program. He has given Congress six months to preserve the program’s protections before DACA recipients lose their status in March 2018.
According to CNBC, a study from FWD.us—a pro-immigration reform group co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg—found that 91 percent of DACA recipients are employed. Canceling the program, which shields these immigrants from deportation, would mean roughly 30,000 a month would lose their work permits.
DACA recipients will be able to renew their two-year period of legality if their status expires before or on March 5, 2018 as long as they apply before Oct. 5, but the length of their welcome will now depend on Congress’ ability to assist them. The government will not process or accept any new applications for DACA protection, but they are willing to look over all pending applications and decide them on a case-by-case basis.
Although many Republicans support Trump, there are many GOP leaders who are against ending the DACA program, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain.
According to CNBC, McCain said, “I strongly believe that children who were illegally brought into this country through no fault of their own should not be forced to return to a country they do not know.” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi referred to Trump’s plan as “cruel and heartless.”
A study conducted by the Center for American Progress estimates the loss of DACA workers would reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by $433 billion over the next 10 years. Concerning individual states, California and Texas would be among the hardest to be hit, losing $11.3 billion and $6.1 billion in GDP respectively.
Many businesses are worried about DACA policy changes because they will negatively affect the economy. Businesses have to satisfy their labor needs and many of their workers depend on DACA. Companies such as Facebook, JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft are reliant on immigrant workers and have been quick to defend such a crucial part of their workforce.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, has made it clear that the government will not deport any of the 39 DACA recipients employed by his company. According to CNBC, Smith said, “As an employer, we appreciate that Dreamers add to the competitiveness and economic success of our company and the entire nation’s business community,” and will “exercise [our] legal rights properly to help protect our employees,” despite what Congress may or may not accomplish.
Out of the 800,000 DACA participants, a majority of them are in school and are spread out across many industries. A researcher at the University of California, San Diego stated that more than half of DACA participants are still enrolled in school, while more than two-thirds have earned less than a bachelor’s degree. As DACA is rescinded, the country loses a portion of its potentially educated workforce.
According to The New York Times, one-fifth of the DACA recipients occupy the health care and education sectors. Rescinding DACA would create a potential loss of more than 10,000 workers for necessary jobs with a high demand for workers, like home health aides and nursing assistants. The demand for this line of work is constantly increasing because of the aging baby boomer population, and DACA recipients are the ones doing this critical work.
The health care field heavily relies on immigrant labor and by canceling DACA, it opens up other immigrant programs to vulnerability as well. According to The New York Times, “As a basic matter of economics, removing tens of thousands of workers from occupations that already suffer from a serious labor shortage ... generally has one unambiguous effect: driving up costs.”