President Donald Trump has decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an executive action that protected from deportation more than 800,000 “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.
In a statement, the president said that the Obama initiative led to a “massive surge [of] young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country.” Revoking DACA, he went on, was necessary to ensure “safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans.”
The president’s statement makes it sound like Dreamers are often violent members of society who, even when they’re not committing crimes, are busy stealing native-born Americans’ jobs and draining scarce government resources. The facts, however, paint a starkly different picture. There is little evidence to suggest that Dreamers are more violent than average Americans, and criminals were never eligible for protection under DACA anyway. Instead, there is considerable evidence that Dreamers are productive members of society.
The typical Dreamer is young and employed at a job that earns about $17 per hour, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Dreamers pay taxes and are not eligible for federal welfare. As a result, far from being a drain on government, they are a boon. Cato estimates that ending DACA could cost Washington nearly $280 billion in lost tax revenue over the next decade.