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Must-Read from Marshall Fitz: “Facts, Not Fear, Should Prevail In Supreme Court Case”

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In a new must-read Medium piece, Marshall Fitz lays out the case on case on why “facts, not fear” should prevail as the Supreme Court is poised to take up the lawsuit blocking implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA, which would provide work permits and protection from deportation for up to five million undocumented immigrants with deep roots and ties to the United States.

Fitz notes that not only should implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA be allowed to go forward as a boon to immigrant families and local and state economies — “one study from the Center for American Progress pegs the increase in cumulative GDP over a 10-year period from DACA and DAPA at $230 billion” — but that the lawsuit blocking the program is nothing more than a politically-motived stunt in the first place.

A portion of Fitz’s piece is below, and the complete Medium post can be read here.

The lawsuit filed by Texas and joined by other states was premised on the claim that DAPA would harm the state because DAPA recipients would be able to apply for driver’s licenses, which are, in Texas, partly subsidized by the state’s taxpayers. Setting aside the strong legal arguments against this flimsy and attenuated basis for the lawsuit (and the Pandora’s box it would open to politically motivated legal challenges against every federal administrative policy), the facts show that DAPA would have significant positive economic and fiscal impacts for the states.

For starters, the MPI and Urban report show that DAPA families would see an income gain of approximately 10 percent if the parents obtained work authorization. DAPA eligible individuals and their families earn less annually than similarly situated legal permanent residents because their undocumented status reduces their job mobility and makes them more exploitable. Work authorization would enable them to move in to change jobs, maximize their full range of skills, and obtain additional education and training that would lead to an increase in their incomes.

These income gains would lift many of these families above the poverty line. Equally important, deferring the deportation of these parents will help protect their families from significant economic harm. As the MPI/Urban report concludes: “If the father were deported, the average DAPA family would go from near-poor (with an income at about 135 percent of the federal poverty level) to deep poverty (with an income at about 50 percent of that level).” In other words, simply by deferring the deportation of these parents will protect millions of U.S. citizen children from descending in to deep poverty.

Contrary to the specter raised in many extreme right-wing corners that DAPA recipients will take jobs from the native born, these programs would not impact labor force participation. As the MPI/Urban study shows, DAPA eligible men are considerably more likely (95% v. 86%) to be in the labor force than their legal permanent resident counterparts. They just earn less because of their marginalization from the formal economy.

Significantly, the benefits of enhanced workforce mobility and productivity not only affect DAPA recipients and their families, the positive economic outcomes actually ripple throughout the economy. Because these families are also consumers, they will spend the additional money on food, clothes, housing, transportation, etc. That means more demand in the economy, which leads to income growth and job creation for all Americans. One study from the Center for American Progress pegs the increase in cumulative GDP over a 10-year period from DACA and DAPA at $230 billion.

That, of course, is just a fraction of the economic growth that would flow from a legislative solution that authorized most undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and citizenship over five years. According to the Center for American Progress, such a program would produce a cumulative increase in GDP of more than $1 trillion. Contrast that with the massive hole in the economy — estimated by the conservative American Action Forum to be $1.6 trillion over 10 years — that that would result from driving 11 million people (not to mention many of their family members) out of the country. In this fact-free campaign, the mass deportation nightmare that Trump are Cruz have endorsed ignores both the costs and feasibility of such a plan. The American Action Forum estimates that the hard costs of actually identifying, detaining and deporting the undocumented population to range from $400–600 billion.

What’s more, even though undocumented workers are economically marginalized, they still pay significant amounts of state and local taxes. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reports that in 2013, undocumented immigrants paid $11.6 billion in state and local taxes ($~1.6 billion in California alone), or an average of 8% of their annual income. By contrast, the wealthiest Americans (the top 1%) only pay about 5.4% of their income to state and local taxes.

And if the administration’s deferred action initiatives were fully implemented, annual state and local revenues would increase by more than $805 million. In Texas, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit blocking DAPA, the increase in state revenue from full implementation would be nearly $59 million.