When President Trump signaled that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he sent a mixed message to the world. America is getting tougher on immigrants, but it’s also turning its back on the very people who keep our nation competitive in the global marketplace. After Trump reversed himself in negotiations held at a White House dinner with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, only to do two more about-faces on Twitter and later in a public comment, the DACA program has become absurdist political theater. While Trump plays footsie, 800,000 “dreamers” are left in a state of anxiety about their future.
America needs workers. America has enjoyed a “demographic dividend” over the last several decades whereby the total work force represented a considerable amount of the total population. But with baby boomers leaving the workforce because of retirement, our country needs immigrants to pick up the slack and fill out the workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, without immigrants, by 2035 our working-age population will decline. In other words, immigrants and their children are key drivers of American economic growth. Without immigrants, our demographics are concerning.
Trump has a long history of hostility to immigrants, even though his casinos, golf resorts, and construction projects use—and sometimes misuse—their labor. By acting the tough guy, he is making America weaker in the long run. Immigrants the world over are rethinking whether they want to come here, and whether the American Dream can still be attained. Without a steady and ample supply of immigrants, this country’s economic growth will be at risk.
America is in the midst of a decades-long slowdown of startups. Some 450,000 companies were founded in 2014, which is a drop-off from the 500,000 to 600,000 range of startups per year over the last thirty years. Moreover, millennials aren’t starting companies at the same rate as Baby Boomers. Our country has long been the global leader for entrepreneurs looking to disrupt incumbent industries, but these sagging numbers indicate that our reputation may be flickering, especially as other countries are investing in the industries that will be significant economic drivers in the future.
“Dreamers,” the young people who have received deportation relief and work permits due to DACA, are already helping to fill the gaps. There are more than 750,000 dreamers, and 223,000 or 30 percent reside in California alone. Some 95 percent of dreamers are either working or in school, which means they are either currently in or about-to-be joining the workforce. Many economists contend that dreamers boost the United States’ economic prospects.
By deporting nearly 800,000 or sending them into the shadows, the undocumented population in the United States will get ever larger. According to the CATO Institute, such a move will cost the US about $280 billion in future growth over the next ten years: “The evidence suggests that the mere presence of undocumented workers, especially non-criminals like those covered under DACA, is not nearly as detrimental to the economy as most people suppose, and may actually be a net benefit.” Of course, by welcoming dreamers as full citizens, the cost of enforcement will drop considerably, saving tax payers billions of dollars.
Indeed, there are no major negative effects of dreamers on our economy. And there’s no surefire proof that shows dreamers taking away jobs from others. Dreamers pay taxes, serve in the military, work assiduously. They continue to abide by a social contract – helping their native country even in the face of great certainty. And yet their country has repaid them with a raw deal: Thanks for the hard work, see you later.
Lest we forget that all of us except Native Americans are the descendants of immigrants, we should demonstrate compassion and empathy for the dreamers. And if that’s not enough, we should invoke our good common sense to understand that these young people enrich our country with a vital source of energy and hard work. Many have already assimilated because America is the only country that they know. To turn a cold shoulder to our fellow brothers and sisters risks our economic and moral leadership in the world.
[This article was also published by SFGate]
Article is by Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, Jeff Oster
Deepak Chopra and Kabir Sehgal are authors of National Bestseller Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, a book of poems and album of music inspired by immigrants. Jeff Oster is a producer of Home and lives in the Bay Area.