In the face of a pending Supreme Court decision on the DACA program and imperiled protections for hundreds of thousands of TPS holders, this report explores the contributions of these two groups of immigrants to the U.S. economy and the economic cost of losing those contributions. Based on American Community Survey data and other sources and buttressed with individual anecdotes, the report estimates the DACA-eligible population of the U.S. at 1.3 million and TPS holders (from 10 countries) at 318,000. These two groups had more than $25.2 billion in spending power and contributed more than $5.5 billion in taxes in 2017, with almost $2.5 billion going to state and local governments (an especially significant amount considering these groups are ineligible for most taxpayer-funded public assistance programs). A striking 93.3 percent of the DACA eligible are in the labor force as are 94.1 percent of TPS recipients. The report also finds that both groups have higher rates of small business creation than comparable U.S-born workers, helping revive downtown business districts in economically distressed towns and cities. Studies cited estimate that ending DACA could slow U.S. economic growth by $280 to $430 billion in just one decade, and terminating TPS for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti alone could lower gross domestic product by $45.2 billion. Noting strong public support for Dreamers in recent polling, the report closes with potential policy solutions. Alongside bipartisan versions of the DREAM Act, these include a recent Senate Democratic measure offering a path to legal status for TPS holders and the House’s Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which creates a path to legal status for both groups. Given research showing an income boost from naturalization, a pathway to citizenship would only increase the economic impact of these populations. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)
Overcoming the Odds: The Contributions of DACA-Eligible Immigrants and TPS Holders to the U.S. Economy,
New American Economy, May 2019, 11 pp.