DREAM Act’s Potential Boost to Economy Means DACA Is Here to Stay

white house.jpgThe Center for American Progress and the Partnership for a New American Economy released a joint study which found that up to 223,000 of the 2.1 million young undocumented immigrants eligible for the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act would have an easier time enrolling, paying for and finishing college, which would in turn lead to increased economic gains for the United States. The report concludes that if undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children were given legal status, their improved access to college and better jobs would add $329 billion and 1.4 million jobs to the nation’s economy over the next 20 years.
The report provides an argument in favor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal residency to illegal immigrants, brought to the country as children and have completed or are in enrolled in high school or served in the military. When the DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001, it was a bipartisan effort sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. It has since become more one sided. The House of Representatives passed it in 2010 with minimal GOP support, and it failed in the Senate when only three Republicans voted for it.
President Barack Obama has supported the bill and used his executive authority to give some relief to DREAMers. He created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that does not grant legal residency or U.S. citizenship but gives young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and work permits for two years.
However, support from the GOP for DREAMers might be on rise. Originally, during the Republican primary, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would veto legislation to provide a path to citizenship for some of the young people who benefited from Obama’s order. However, on October 2, 2012, Romney said he would honor temporary work permits for young undocumented immigrants who were allowed to stay in the U.S. because of President Barack Obama’s new policy, deferred action. In an interview appearing in the Denver Post, Romney said that people who are able to earn the two-year visas to stay and work wouldn’t see them revoked under his administration. However, Romney did not comment on whether or not he would undo Obama’s plan for future applicants. Instead, Romney is promising to put a comprehensive immigration reform plan into place before the first DACA applications expire.
While the DACA program has been slow to get underway, it appears that the positive impact this group of immigrants could have on the United States’ still struggling economy has made it a valuable program to keep in place for whoever wins the next Presidential election, especially if the DREAM Act runs into more legislative delays.