Business Leaders Know: DAPA and DACA+ Means Opportunity for Millions
Our immigration system is broken. Currently, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. They live in every community in the country — but they live every single day in fear of deportation and unable to contribute fully to our economy and our communities. They’re fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, entrepreneurs, registered nurses, and aspiring attorneys. They’re hard-working people who want to make our country a better place and deserve the opportunity to do so.
For generations, immigrants have been coming to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and for their families. And for generations we have welcomed those who have sought out the promise of our country, and given them the opportunity to help build the nation that we know and love today. But our immigration laws are fundamentally broken, and totally unfit for our economy.
In November of 2014, President Obama took a critical step when he announced several commonsense steps to tackle our broken immigration system. Among his executive actions on immigration were the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — programs designed to provide deportation relief and work permits for approximately 5 million immigrants for up to 3 years. Deferred action has been used on at least 21 occasions and by every president — Republican and Democratic — for decades, including by President Bush in 1990, which covered 40% of the undocumented population, the same percentage as President Obama’s.
While it’s no substitute for legislation, President Obama’s actions would be the biggest step forward for immigrants in decades — and a critical boost for our economy.
But for nearly a year and a half, these programs have been held up by an injunction originating in Texas, awaiting legal review.
On Monday, April 18, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case — U.S. v. Texas — that could unfreeze these programs. The stakes of this case are high: the fate of millions of individuals and their families hang in the balance on this very important day.
That’s why 60 leaders in business and tech — including FWD.us founders Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, Aditya Agarwal, Ron Conway, and Max Levchin — all signed on to an amicus brief from the business community in support of the DAPA and expanded DACA programs.
“Instead of inviting the economic contributions of immigrants, our immigration enforcement policies have often inhibited the productivity of U.S. companies and made it harder for them to compete in the global marketplace…America’s immigration enforcement policies should ensure that immigrants’ ingenuity, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit are contributing to the U.S. economy — and deferred action policies are a helpful start…”
– Business leaders’ amicus brief
Like millions of Americans, these entrepreneurs and business leaders understand the overwhelming benefits of these programs to our economy — and even more importantly — to our communities, and to millions of families across the country who only wish to contribute fully and not live in fear of deportation.
Here are four key ways immigration reform affects the economy — and the President’s executive actions would be a massive, critical boost to the economy:
1. Our current immigration policies actually hurt our economy. Without reform, we are hurting the very industries that rely on undocumented immigrants to fill important jobs. Right now, undocumented individuals comprise more than 5% of the U.S. labor force, and in some industries, such as agriculture, they represent a majority of the entire workforce.
2. Undocumented immigrants are already contributing billions of dollars in tax revenue every year. Undocumented immigrants already pay $11.64 billion a year in state and local taxes. Additionally, immigrants eligible for under the current executive action programs DAPA or DACA already pay $5.3 billion in state and local taxes every year. If these executive actions are implemented, that figure would rise to $6.1 billion per year, an increase of $805 million.
3. Immigration reform makes a fairer workplace — for everyone. The DACA and DAPA programs will crack down on workplace abuse and exploitation, help entrepreneurs create American jobs, and will allow undocumented immigrants to contribute even more fully to our economy. Granting workers access to basic workplace protections would help ensure access to the minimum wage, as well as ensuring that workers are paying taxes appropriately. This means that unscrupulous employers can’t hire under the table — and that means wages go up for native-born Americans.
4. Continued inaction on immigration reform is detrimental to today’s kids and tomorrow’s workforce. Between 2009 and 2013, there were more than 4.3 million children — most of them U.S. citizens — living in the same household with at least one undocumented parent who would be eligible for DAPA. Without the implementation of DAPA, we are placing an unnecessary burden on young children who fear their parents could be deported at any moment. Unfortunately, even for the undocumented children who overcome the many obstacles facing them and their families, achieve educational excellence in the United States, and are poised to help our businesses succeed in the global economy, many are still prevented from investing their skills in the U.S. economy.
The entrepreneurs and business leaders who signed onto this amicus brief understand what’s at stake on Monday — not just for our economy, but for children, parents, grandparents, and families in communities across America who have waited years for relief. Beyond being an incredibly important economic issue, immigration reform is one of the pressing moral issues of our time. At the end of the day, fixing our broken immigration system is about keeping American families together, and doing right by our country’s history as a nation of immigrants.
There is no substitute for a permanent legislative solution. But while we continue to push Congress to act, we cannot emphasize enough how important these executive actions are for the immigrant community and to our country as a whole. Should the Court decide to unfreeze the DAPA and expanded DACA programs, it will be a huge step forward in keeping millions of families together, improving our economy, and strengthening communities across America.