Defending DACA Is a Moral and Economic Imperative

Black-and-white photo of DACA information table.
Photo by Steve Rhodes via flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants. Over the course of its five-year history, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has provided a path for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to contribute to our country. These are people who have lived in the United States since they were children. The White House and Congress have tried to pass the issue off on each other, each arguing that the other is responsible for determining the fate of the approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who are benefiting from DACA.

We at the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders vigorously oppose any move by this administration to end the DACA program.

The DACA Program is just economic common sense.  DACA recipients are important economic contributors and this program unlocks their economic potential for our country.  The Institute on Tax and Economic Policy estimates that the 1.3 million young undocumented immigrants enrolled or immediately eligible for DACA contribute an estimated $2 billion a year in state and local taxes. Continuing the DACA program would generate an estimated increase in state and local revenue of $425 million, bringing their total contribution to $2.45 billion.

Repealing the temporary legal status and work authorizations permitted by DACA would reduce state and local revenues by nearly $800 million. The cost of ending DACA will be approximately of $400 billion over the span of 10 years, nationwide.

It is hard to understand the meanness of spirit that motivates any policymaker to end a program that provides the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to people who have broken no laws and contribute significantly to our economy. Prosecuting children years later for the decisions of their parents is un-American. These young people’s dreams are part of the American Dream. The decision by the White House to terminate DACA will crush their dreams and weaken the American Dream for the rest of us.

What makes the United States unique as a country is that no matter what we look like, or where we come from, we are all Americans. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals–under the constitution we are all created equal, and share an obligation to speak up and secure our values and ideals for the next generation. America is the country that it is because of its inclusion and diversity.

The immigration and community development fields are interdependent, and building on these connections represents an opportunity to promote the integration of an important subgroup of the youth population. DACA has the potential to stimulate new alliances between public, private, and non-profit actors who share a common interest in the civic engagement and human capital development of their local communities.

Drawing lessons from initiatives already underway at the convergence of these fields, a wide range of institutions and government agencies can support the continued success of DACA youth and simultaneously advance regional, state and national goals that include college completion, workforce training, and comprehensive economic inclusion goals.

Noel A. Poyo is the executive director of NALCAB.


  1. Because of your interdependence with a cohort of individuals who entered our country without proper documentation, you have a self-interest to defend the status quo. But what if your job was to abide by, or enforce, our immigration regulations, flawed as they are? We are not an anti-immigrant country; in fact, we accept legal immigrants on a continuous basis. So, let’s have a proper perspective on the matter. Let’s talk about how this problem originated, and how to correct it, if possible.

    If economic contributions to our economy were a determinative factor involving undocumented immigrants from anywhere in the world, our country would welcome everyone, not just 11 million, but perhaps 100 million, every year. But like all other nations of the world, there is a system in place to handle the process, again, flawed as it is.

    From a governance standpoint at the federal level attempting & striving for fairness to any and all immigrants to our country, how do you justify allowing a particular class of undocumented over everyone else in the world simply because they benefit your organization? I am not a conservative or a Republican, just someone trying to be fair, honest, and not self-serving, respectful of our ideals & values as a country.


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