Report: Michigan's economy will be hurt without DACA fix
The new year will be filled with uncertainty for thousands of young immigrants whose lives are in limbo, and their advocates say their loss would be felt by all.
Nearly 600,000 young people -- including 5,400 in Michigan who were brought to this country as children by their undocumented parents -- have been living with fear since President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides them protections to live and work here.
Victoria Crouse, state policy fellow for the Michigan League for Public Policy, says if these so-called "DREAMers" leave the state, their economic contributions do as well. The DREAM Act, long stalled in Congress, would have put those protections into law and created a path to permanent residency.
"If all these workers are removed from our economy, our state would lose out on an opportunity to invest in everyone, because it would mean a loss of $13 million in local and state taxes," Crouse warns.
The League's report recommends Congress create a pathway to citizenship for these young people, and warns that if they are deported the state would also lose more than $400 million each year in economic activity.
A bipartisan group of senators is currently working to tie a border-security package to deportation protections for DREAMers, but so far no deal has been struck. Trump has given them a March 2018 deadline. Unless Congress acts, temporary deportation protections for those immigrants are set to end in early March.
Crouse says despite facing many barriers, including not being eligible for in-state tuition, many DREAMers are pursuing careers in high-tech, highly skilled areas.
"These are the areas where we see a shortage of candidates, so these young immigrants are really helping to fill in an important gap in our labor market, in our labor force," she explains. "So taking those opportunities away really hurts everyone."
The full report is on the League's website.