Legalizing the Status of “Dreamers” is Good for Them, Their Families and the Country

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created by the Obama Administration to help undocumented immigrants who came into the country when they were children. These “dreamers” under DACA deportations were deferred, and for some it created a path to legal residency status. Allowing dreamers to remain in Kentucky and the country as whole will benefit everyone.

The Trump administration wants to end the program, so whether the DACA program will continue in some form is unknown. Legal challenges to the administration’s attempt to end the program have been successful in lower federal courts. The administration in January asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the outcome.

Critics of DACA claim that dreamers are a drain on the economy. The opposite is true, according to an article in The Conversation by Amy Hsin, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York. She estimates that about 3.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. entered the country as children.

If the 2017 Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act became law, about 2.1 million of these undocumented youths would probably become eligible to become citizens. Hsin states that immigrants given permanent legal work permits under the DREAM Act would not compete with low-skilled U.S.-born workers, because only those with at least a high school degree are eligible for legalization. The act also encourages dreamers to go to college, because it’s one of the conditions for attaining legal residency.

Nor would the act have any significant impact on the income of U.S. born workers, because dreamers are a tiny part of the country’s roughly 150-million-person labor force. Hsin admits that Americans who attended college but who didn’t graduate may experience an income decline of, at most, 0.2% a year; but high school graduates would probably see an income boost of about the same amount.

The biggest beneficiaries would be the dreamers themselves and their families. Dreamers, if they have legal status and have some college education, could see their income increase by about 15%, because with a legal status they’d have greater employment opportunities.

Passage of the DREAM Act would also promote overall economic growth, because the productivity of legalized dreamers would increase and grow the nation’s tax base. Without more and better job opportunities, dreamers are often overqualified for their jobs. If dreamers’ status is changed, they should be in a better position to have jobs that are a better match for their skills and qualifications, making them more productive. This increase in productivity under a passed DREAM Act could raise the United States’ gross domestic product by $15.2 billion and significantly increase tax revenue.

If you live in Kentucky, qualified for the DACA program and have questions or concerns or need help to obtain legal status in the country, fill out our contact form or call us at (859) 971-0060 so we can discuss the legal process, the applicable law and how we can help.