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New Immigration Studies Underscore Economic and Civic Costs of Trump’s Mass Deportation Vision

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Two important new studies offer reminders about the tremendous costs that would be incurred if Donald Trump gets to put his extremism on immigration into practice as President. The studies, from the Center for American Progress and Pew Research, show why deporting undocumented immigrants from America would come at a huge cost to America’s fiscal and economic health, as well as to the basic fabric and cohesion of American families and communities.

new study from the Center for American Progress, “The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers,” projects the disastrous economic and fiscal costs that would result from the U.S. pursuing Trump’s deportation-focused immigration vision, finding that mass deportation would:

“immediately reduce the nation’s GDP by 1.4 percent, and ultimately by 2.6 percent, and reduce cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion. Because capital will adjust downward to a reduction in labor—for example, farmers will scrap or sell excess equipment per remaining worker—the long-run effects are larger and amount to two-thirds of the decline experienced during the Great Recession. Removing 7 million unauthorized workers would reduce national employment by an amount similar to that experienced during the Great Recession.”

…mass deportation “would cost the federal government nearly $900 billion in lost revenue over 10 years. Federal government revenues are roughly proportional to GDP, while federal spending is less responsive. A conservative estimate suggests that annual revenue losses would start at $50 billion and accumulate to $860 billion over a 10-year period. With associated increases in interest payments, removal* would thus raise the federal debt by $982 billion by 2026 and increase the debt-to-GDP ratio, a common measure of fiscal sustainability, by 6 percentage points over the same time period. Unsustainably high levels of the debt-to-GDP ratio may ultimately raise interest rates and choke off economic growth.”

Meanwhile, a new Pew Research study, “Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009”, emphasizes that fewer new undocumented immigrants are arriving in America and finds that the median length of U.S. residency for an undocumented immigrant’s time in America has increased to 13.6 years – underscoring that there would be a tremendous civic and community costs associated with finding and deporting individuals who are increasingly settled into American lives, families, and communities. Pew writes:

“As the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population has stabilized, it also has become more settled. In 2014, unauthorized immigrant adults had lived in the U.S. for a median of 13.6 years – meaning that half had been in the country at least that long. In 2005, the median had been eight years, before rising to 10 years in 2009, the year the recession ended.

…Unauthorized immigrants increasingly are likely to have been in the U.S. for 10 years or more – 66% in 2014 compared with 41% in 2005. A declining share has lived in the U.S. for less than five years; only 14% had been in the U.S. for less than five years in 2014, compared with 31% in 2005. This overall change has been fueled by the decline in new unauthorized immigrants, especially those from Mexico.”

Donald Trump has pledged to deport most, if not all, undocumented immigrants, including those long settled in America. Trump also has pledged to immediately end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers – a real threat to a real program that is a real benefit for approximately 750,000 DACA recipients (read the new Medium post from DACA recipient and America’s Voice staffer Juan Escalante, who writes that, “My ability to remain in the United States hinges on the 2016 general election.”)

In contrast to Trump, the American people overwhelmingly and increasingly back citizenship for undocumented immigrants instead of deportation-focused policies: in a September New York Times/CBS poll, 74% back either citizenship or legalization while just 21% support deportation; In a September Quinnipiac poll, 72% back either citizenship or legalization while just 24% support deportation; in a September Washington Post/ABC News poll, 78% back citizenship instead of deportation; and in a September CNN poll, Americans support, rather than oppose, a path to citizenship by a 88%-11% margin.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Donald Trump’s nativism is disconnected from the facts about America’s undocumented population, the consistent wishes of the American people who want common sense immigration reform, and our interest in growing the economy and upholding our tradition as a nation of immigrants. The American people already know what these new studies underscore: instead of deportation, we need to find a way to provide a legal path forward for immigrants who are Americans in all but their paperwork.”