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A Times Editorial

Editorial: Killing DACA shows a lack of compassion and common sense

Say goodbye to the law school student. To the tech industry worker. Say goodbye to the thousands of young adults in Florida who have devoted their lives to the ideal of the American Dream. By announcing the winding down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, President Donald Trump has broken the nation's promise to these undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children and have followed the rules in the only nation they have ever really known. It is morally and economically indefensible, and it is up to Congress to rescue them.

There is a reason so many disparate voices spent recent weeks imploring Trump not to go down this road. His strategy exhibits neither goodwill nor good sense. That's why Gov. Rick Scott, a stalwart Trump supporter, was among those urging the president to reconsider. So did two Republican candidates for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater. Tech industry innovators from Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Facebook all disagree with Trump. Leaders in banking (Wells Fargo), retail (Best Buy and Ikea) and transportation (General Motors) are also on board with the Dreamers.

In Florida, the loss of DACA protection means more than 30,000 workers could soon lose their jobs. The turnover expense for employers would be huge, and the loss of tax revenues would cost Florida nearly $6 billion in the next decade, according to a study done by the libertarian Cato Institute. Multiply those numbers nationwide, and you get even bigger losses to Medicare and Social Security because Dreamers with jobs are paying into those entitlements.

None of this is revelatory from an economic standpoint. Go back to 2010, when Congress was considering passage of the Dream Act, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determined that providing educational opportunities to young immigrants would reduce the federal deficit. The whole point is that America's economy is better off with a well-educated workforce.

That's why it's important to understand these are not the crude caricatures of immigrants that Trump once used to whip up support on the campaign trail. Dreamers, by the very definition of the executive order, are the kind of newcomers we should embrace. They are educated — just about half are currently in school and almost one-third are seeking bachelor's degrees. They are employed — a Center for American Progress report says 91 percent of current DACA recipients have jobs. They are law-abiding — anyone with a felony record is ineligible for the program.

So what is the rationale for this move? Ostensibly, it is a response to a legal threat from the attorneys general of 10, mostly Southern, states. But it is also an appeal to Trump's base. If he was merely concerned about the lawsuit, Trump could have announced his intention to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. Instead, he is simply dumping it in the lap of Congress and sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions out to make the announcement.

From the time he signed the executive order for DACA in 2012, President Barack Obama said it was a temporary fix. Eventually the time would come for a legislative solution. Now that time has been hastened by an implicit threat of deportation of those young people this nation has invested in and promised they would be safe if they came out of the shadows and placed their trust in Washington.

Polls say Americans overwhelmingly think Dreamers deserve a chance to succeed. Even some GOP hard-liners are showing signs of compassion. Now it is up to Congress to rescue nearly 800,000 Dreamers, protect America's economy and reaffirm this nation's longstanding place as a beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world.

Editorial: Killing DACA shows a lack of compassion and common sense 09/05/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 5, 2017 4:51pm]
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