For Immediate Release
December 20, 2017
New report shows 5,400 immigrants and $418 million in economic activity in jeopardy in Michigan
LANSING—Over half a million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, including 5,400 in Michigan, face an uncertain holiday season as their dreams of citizenship have been stalled by the U.S. Justice Department. While these young immigrants should be excited to register for a new semester of classes, enjoy their workplace holiday party, spend time with loved ones or take part in community events, these Dreamers are instead spending their holidays worried that they may be forced to return to living in the shadows, fearing for their futures.
A new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy, The Benefits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Immigrants in Michigan, delves into the positive impact of DACA on enrollees in the state—and the devastation its recent termination will have on Michigan’s immigrant families, communities and economy.
In Michigan, thousands of immigrants currently enrolled in the federal DACA program stand to lose their ability to work and go to school without fear of deportation. These young “Dreamers” came to the United States as children and identify as Americans in every sense of the world, but do not have legal status. The DACA program, established in 2012, granted temporary reprieve from deportation and a renewable two-year work permit to Dreamers who met requirements.
“Dreamers in Michigan are students who balance work and college courses, employees pursuing professional dreams, family members helping to contribute to their household income and consumers working to afford a car or a home. They are contributors to our state’s economy and tax base in a variety of ways,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “These young immigrants are a vital part of our state and key to a vibrant future, and federal policymakers should be working to keep them here.”
If these Dreamers leave Michigan, their economic contributions leave, too. According to the report, DACA beneficiaries contribute $13 million in state and local tax revenue. And the state would see a $418 million annual GDP loss without these individuals.
This is in addition to the personal devastation that Dreamers face with the end of DACA. Loss of income, loss of a driver’s license and loss of educational opportunities lead directly to the loss of a future.
“Just a few months ago, DACA recipients were looking forward to a safe and secure life in the United States. Today, they must deal with uncertainties and even potential deportation to ‘homelands’ that are unfamiliar. This type of treatment is despicable and goes against our American values. The League encourages policies that allow all residents to thrive instead of these efforts to tear us apart, right down to our very families,” Jacobs said.
Research shows that inclusive immigration policies are best, and the report recommends the following:
- A pathway to citizenship that provides long-term relief from deportation;
- Tuition-equity policies that allow DACA beneficiaries to be considered eligible for in-state tuition at universities and private colleges;
- Access to occupational and professional licenses so that DACA beneficiaries can put their education and training into action; and
- Policies for social and economic inclusion that eliminate barriers to success for Michigan’s immigrant families.
A recent wave of anti-immigration legislation raises concerns as thousands of immigrant families across the nation and here in Michigan have become the object of scrutiny and
“We know that inclusive immigration policies help all Michiganders, so we were dismayed to see that the Michigan Legislature is moving forward with HB 4053, an anti-immigrant bill that would make English the official state language. Policies like this do nothing but divide our state and distract people from the real issues facing our residents,” Jacobs said.
Over the last year, the League has continued to lift up the contributions of Michigan immigrants, including producing an overview of immigrants in Michigan and county-by-county immigration fact sheets.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.