New data shows Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients inject millions in tax money in the state.
On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending decision on the future of recipients of the DACA program, new data from the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit immigration migration advocacy group, shows they contribute hundreds of millions in state and local taxes.
The council’s data states that as of 2019, there are more than 107,000 active DACA recipients.
According to a 2019 Migration Policy Institute report, there are an estimated 253,000 DACA-eligible recipients in Texas, another 192,000 immediately eligible, 55,000 who are eligible but for education, and finally, another 7,000 who would be eligible in the future — all in Texas.
In addition, Texas DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals paid an estimated $244.7 million in state and local taxes in 2018, AIC’s report stated.
The Trump Administration rescinded the Barack Obama-era program on Sept. 5, 2017, stating it would “wind down” the program, and stop taking new applications from eligible immigrants, and renewals would only be accepted through March 5, 2018.
DACA was set to expire in March 2018 but litigation in the federal courts has kept the program from expiring pending the court arguments.
Announced by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on June 15, 2012, the program allows people who came to the country as children and meet several guidelines, to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
DACA provides nearly 800,000 immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S — but does not provide a path for citizenship.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the critical role immigrants are playing on the front lines and stimulating our economic recovery, it remains crucial for the public to understand the broad range of contributions immigrants make to communities in Texas,” AIC’s news release stated.
Opponents of the Obama-era program, like then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, derided the program because it came as an executive action from then-President Obama, after Congress failed to pass legislation on a pathway for legal status for immigrants.
Sessions said the program was “an unconstitutional exercise by the Executive Branch,” and an “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws.”
The Trump administration has argued to the Supreme Court that DACA should be ended, and that regardless of the program’s legality, the administration — specifically the Department of Homeland Security — should be allowed to end it, adding that the courts would not have jurisdiction over the decision to do so.
President Trump has also been public about his displeasure of the program, and the benefits some immigrants receive as a result.
In November, via social media, Trump denounced some DACA recipients as “far from angels,” and characterized some as “hardened criminals.”
In the Rio Grande Valley, it’s estimated there are more than 28,000 DACA recipients, according to Congressional data on DACA recipients.
Abraham Diaz, 26, is the education specialist with La Union del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, a local immigrant advocacy group, and a DACA recipient who has been advocating for the program for several years now. Diaz, who retained DACA status several years ago, now dedicates his time to support and educate immigrants in Hidalgo County by partnering with local schools to guide others to scholarships, financial aid, and other services.
Diaz said though there was no decision on the program’s future Monday; he and others expect the Supreme Court to come to one by the end of the month, and no matter what the decision is, he will continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
“Whether they terminate the program or not… you know we’ve already been in that situation; when we were fully undocumented. That didn’t stop us from pushing legislation, the Dream Act,” Diaz said. “That didn’t stop us from pressuring the president, and I don’t think it’s going to stop us from continuing to push — whether they terminate the program or not.”
A decision from the highest court in the nation on the program’s future, could come as early as next Monday.