Leaders from South, Southeast Respond to New Cato Study: Repeal of DACA Would Cost Americans Billions

Communications Associate

January 19, 2017

Ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would cost the country billions, according to a Cato Institute study released Wednesday.

A repeal followed by deportation of all DACA recipients, who number about 740,000, would cost more than $60 billion, not counting an ensuing $280 billion hit to the American economy in the next decade, researchers found.

“For Donald Trump to begin his administration by issuing an executive order of his own that imposes a significant cost of the economy while doing little or nothing to fix the underlying problems that illegal immigration cause would not only be self-defeating, but it would send a signal that the executive overreach of the Obama Administration has become the status quo,” researcher Ike Brannon, a visiting fellow at Cato and president of Capital Policy Analytics, writes in an op-ed.

“American workers are benefiting from DACA recipients’ work and education, and recipients are generating revenue that helps our economy,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “President-elect Trump should see that DACA is a good deal for the American worker. He should preserve the program and urge Congress to take the opportunity to pursue bipartisan solutions that allow these contributions to continue and expand.”

The following are quotes from leaders in the South and Southeast:

Bruce Ashford, Provost, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina:
“How can we find a way to help these young people have a hope and a future in a way that benefits us all? The best way to help Dreamers is to build a multifaceted program of immigration reform that deports violent criminals, but provides multiple paths to legal status for other undocumented immigrants.”

Stan Marek, CEO, Marek Brothers Construction, Houston:
“It would be a real shame to deny the Dreamers legal status. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women have come out of the shadows and are making a contribution to their communities. All undocumented who meet a politically determined benchmark should be offered legal status if they consent to a background check. Once given an ID and registered in a database, they can work for an employer who pays and matches taxes. Two things accomplished — national security because now we know who is here, and revenue generation in the form of taxes.”

John Wible, Former Chief Legal Counsel, Alabama Department of Public Health:
“The report just released by the Cato Institute confirms what we already knew: An attempt to suddenly deport DACA-eligible undocumented persons is bad for business. The far more economically viable approach is to offer some legal mechanism to account for such persons. After that, those who actually pose a threat, either criminally, societally or economically, can be identified and deported. This would actually be doable if the American people and their elected representatives could summon the political will to do it. This may be a rare case when that which is ethical is also the very thing that is economical.”

Sara Damewood, Career Counselor, Columbia, South Carolina:
“As the member of a church with many Hispanic members, I’m concerned about how many bright and talented young people are losing opportunities to develop their careers and our economy. Some are very fearful of DACA being repealed, and they are afraid they might be forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known.”

Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO, Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, Miami:
“The hospitality industry in Miami is vital to the economic health of our state and to the nation, and these young people are essential to the operations of our membership. If the documentation protection offered to childhood arrivals through policies such as DACA is repealed, we would lose not only the economic vitality they offer our operations but also their immense talent. We urge federal lawmakers to find solutions to support these young people who are essential to our industry, community and the nation.”

Pastor Lisa Watson, Founder, Christian Memphians for Immigration Reform Association, Tennessee:
“Dreamers are hardworking, talented young people who want to have the opportunity to give back to the only country some of them have ever known. They’re serving in the military, they’re learning in universities, they’re in churches across the country every weekend. The benefits they have already brought and will continue to bring are innumerable.”