While many New Yorkers are excited about the end of the sweltering summer heat, New York’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients feel nothing but fear and anxiety. Sept. 5 marked the second anniversary of the program’s rescission by the Trump administration and served as a reminder of the congressional inaction that has left them hanging in the balance ever since.
This decision affected not just DACA recipients, but their employers, loved ones and the broader community and economy to which they’ve contributed for years. If left unfixed by Congress, the negative effects of the program’s rescission will only worsen, not to mention the moral consequences of deporting a generation of youth for whom “home” has always meant the United States. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over DACA this November, which could result in the termination of deportation protections and work authorization for these 700,000 young people.
When the administration rescinded the program, the president called on Congress to act in six months. Time lapsed, and nothing happened. Court injunctions have temporarily left the program in place, but the protections are just that — temporary.
If the Supreme Court rules to terminate the program, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across the country will be ripped out of the workforce, pulled from classrooms and separated from their families. Our state can’t afford to lose these valuable New Yorkers. We need to put pressure on Congress to act.
There are more than 40,000 DACA recipients in the state of New York. To earn DACA protections, these young people passed background checks (including fingerprinting) and volunteered their personal information in exchange for the ability to live, work and study in the United States. They are entwined in New York’s communities and our economy, working as entrepreneurs, teachers, nurses, lawyers and everything in between, all contributing to our state.
Immigrants are crucial to our state’s success and we must create a fostering environment for them. If protections for DACA recipients are terminated, New York would face the loss of nearly $2.6 billion in annual GDP and more than $41.4 million in state and local taxes annually, not to mention the moral consequences of deporting a generation of youth who know no other country as home.
In 2014 alone, immigrants in New York paid more than $51.6 billion in taxes, including Social Security and Medicare programs. Not to mention, more than 20 percent of recent home buyers in New York are foreign-born, and immigrants pay $17.5 million in household rent annually.
Immigrants also bolster our workforce, making up more than 25 percent of STEM workers in the state and generating jobs and revenue as entrepreneurs. In fact, roughly one in three entrepreneurs in New York are foreign-born, despite making up only 23 percent of the state’s population, and more than half of Fortune 500 companies in New York were founded by immigrants or their children.
Eddie Taveras is the New York state director for FWD.us.
New York deserves policies that build up the immigrant community, not break them down. I’m thankful to the New York congressional representatives who voted in the House earlier this year in favor of the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide long-term protections for our nation’s Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients, but more needs to be done.
The Senate needs to pass similar protections — and soon. With the Supreme Court hearing imminent, so is a decision that could terminate the DACA program. It’s not the Supreme Court’s job to set immigration law — it’s Congress’.
I look to the leadership of Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer to work in a bipartisan manner to finally put this issue to rest before young immigrants are needlessly separated from the country they call home. This separation would not only harm them, but all New Yorkers.