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DACA Works – Why Protections and Opportunities for Dreamers are Good for Arizona and America

 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an unqualified success, providing new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America, including nearly 28,000 in Arizona. Each DACA recipient has come forward, passed a background check and been granted permission to live and work legally in America. As a result, many have been able to fulfill their dreams of attending and completing college; most are working legally, paying taxes and providing for their families; and all are finding ways to contribute to the country they call home without fear of deportation.

Yet the future of DACA is under serious threat. A coordinated assault on DACA, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, hardline state AGs in nine other states, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is trying to force President Trump into ending the program. The Republican state officials are threatening that if the Trump Administration doesn’t end DACA by September 5th, they will sue to block the program before a notoriously anti-immigrant federal judge named Andrew Hanen. Paxton has a willing ally in embattled AG Sessions, who has long opposed DACA and would only have to refuse to defend the program in court for it to come to an end.

President Trump, who has said that Dreamers should “rest easy,” should stand up to the coordinated attempt to force his hand on DACA and keep protections for Dreamers in place. As theWall Street Journal editorialized recently, President Trump needs to stand up to such bullying and stand up for Dreamers.

Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain and Members of the Arizona congressional delegation, as well as Gov. Ducey and state lawmakers and mayors, should stand up for Arizona Dreamers.  Senator Flake is an early co-sponsor of the Dream Act in the Senate.  McCain should join him, and both should insist that DACA be kept in place until a clean version of the Dream Act is signed.

Does Arizona support the attack on DACA? Arizona is a plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit that Texas wants to use to end DACA, but not a signer of the new anti-DACA letter. AZ AG Mark Brnovich joined Texas and other Republican-led states in an earlier challenge to the 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy, which never went into effect. The original DACA program, created in 2012, was not part of this lawsuit. The new anti-DACA letter was co-signed by a handful of states who supported the DAPA lawsuit – but not Arizona. As a result, AG Brnovich and other state lawmakers should clarify whether they oppose or support the new Texas attack on DACA.

Ending DACA would be an economic disaster for America – including $1.3 billion in lost annual GDP in Arizona: New analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that a decision to end DACA would cost the U.S. government more than $460 billion in lost GDP over the next decade, including $1.3 billion in lost annual GDP in Arizona. The libertarian Cato Institutealso projected major economic toll from ending DACA and deporting Dreamers, noting that “a repeal or roll-back of DACA would harm the economy and cost the U.S. government a significant amount of lost tax revenue. We estimate that the fiscal cost of immediately deporting the approximately 750,000 people currently in the DACA program would be over $60 billion to the federal government along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.” And a report from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) projected that ending DACA would cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs, while cutting $24.6 billion in Medicare and Social Security contributions over a decade.

DACA, and protection for Dreamers, is popular – even with Trump voters: Public support for Dreamers is strong, even among Trump supporters.According to an April Morning Consult and Politico poll, 78% of American voters support giving Dreamers the chance to stay permanently in America, including 73% of Trump voters. Only 14% of all voters (23% of Trump supporters) think Dreamers should be deported.

DACA is legal: it’s a common sense program that is lawful, constitutional, and consistent with decades of actions taken by presidents of both parties.Administrative actions on immigration have taken place since the Eisenhower administration. DACA has been subjected to legal scrutiny and withstood various politically motivated legal challenges  – in fact, every legal challenge to the DACA program to date has failed.

Congress should pass the bipartisan Dream Act  – and keep DACA in place until a clean bill is signed into law: Recently, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stepped up to introduce a bipartisan Dream Act in the U.S. Senate. This legislation, which would allow young immigrants to continue living their American Dream by accessing a path to citizenship, gives lawmakers a chance to move beyond words of support and to sponsor a concrete and permanent fix for young immigrants. As Senator Graham stated in a message directed at his fellow Republicans: “The campaign is over. To the Republican Party, who are we? What do we believe? The moment of reckoning is coming. When they write the history of these times, I’m going to be with these kids.” To Senator Flake’s credit, he is an early co-sponsor of the legislation.

Additional Resources on DACA and Dream Act: