Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on November 25, 2019
President Donald Trump’s attempt by executive order to abolish the current renewable
two-year protection period for immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals (DACA) program, has wound its way through the federal court system to the
Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on November 12. The Court is expected
to issue a ruling by June 2020.
Former President Barack Obama instituted the protection for DACA immigrants by
executive order on Jan. 15, 2012. Regardless of how the Court rules, removing
protection for these immigrants, brought here when they were young by their parents
through no fault of their own, is not in the best long-term competitive or economic
interests of the United States.
Trump has said that if the Court rules in his favor, he will trade with the Democrats,
keeping the DACA protections in place for other legislation he wants passed. If an
agreement cannot be reached, Trump says he will rescind Obama’s executive order
and these immigrants will be deported.
It is estimated that some 750,000 DACA immigrants could face deportation. These are
people who grew up and were educated in the U.S., are part of the workforce and have
a positive impact on the U.S. economy. They are part of who we are. One can only
imagine the disruption to employers if these people are deported.
A January 2017 report by the CATO Institute states, “The fiscal cost of immediately
deporting the approximately 750,000 people currently in the DACA program would be
over $60 billion to the federal government along with a $280 billion reduction in
economic growth over the next decade.”
The tone of Trump’s immigration policy is definitely anti-immigrant. He has
significantly reduced the annual number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S.
This is poor public policy. Trump is playing to his base, rather than explaining to them
how important immigrants are to the U.S.
In August 2019, I wrote an article headlined, “Why immigrants are the key to
American prosperity.” This includes DACA immigrants. What follows are excerpts
from that article.
A study published in September 2018 by The National Immigration Forum titled “Immigrants as Economic Contributors,” indicates that immigrants have a significantly
positive impact on the economy. The study states that “in 2014, immigrants paid an
estimated $328 billion in state, local and federal taxes. Immigrants paid more than a
quarter of all taxes in California, and they paid nearly a quarter of all taxes in New
York and New Jersey.”
A March 2013 article published in the CATO Economic Development Bulletin is headlined, “Poor immigrants use public benefits at a lower rate than poor native-born Americans.” In 2012, 29% of poor immigrants use SNAP benefits (food stamps)
compared with 32.5% of native-born Americans.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2008 through 2016
shows that birth rates in the U.S. have been below replacement rate. The birth rate
continues to decline for a variety of reasons, and immigrants are filling this gap.
Immigrants help pay Medicare and social security benefits to seniors. This is outlined
in an August 2014 report published by The New American Economy Research Fund
titled, “Staying covered: How immigrants have prolonged the solvency of one of
Medicare’s key trust funds and subsidized care for U.S. seniors.”
Many immigrants are entrepreneurial. They bring needed economic life and vitality to
our inner cities – to areas long abandoned by factories and blue-collar residents. They
are motivated to succeed. Immigrants start small businesses within their communities
and create jobs and pay taxes. Some work two or three jobs to provide the needed
resources so their children can go to college.
Immigrants harvest our vegetables, landscape our lawns and build our houses, many of
whom enter the U.S. on temporary work visas, which Trump has made more difficult
to obtain. This threatens the livelihood of business owners who are deprived of needed
An August 2012 report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, indicates
that in 2011, of all new businesses started in the U.S., 28% were started by
immigrants. The report also stated that immigrants were more than twice as likely to
start a business as those who are native born. Immigrant business owners employ 10%
of all employees working in the private sector.
Quoting from an Aug. 14, 2019 article in the Dallas Morning News, “Although
[immigrants] make up about 24% of the population of Dallas, 32% of all businesses in
the city are owned by immigrants. … [Despite] Trump’s crackdown on immigration, a
fundamental reality is that immigrants are a driving force of the U.S. and local
economy, now and across the history of America.”
An April 2013 article in Forbes magazine headlined, “40% of the largest U.S.
companies [were] founded by immigrants or their children,” indicates that between
1995 and 2005, 25% of the high-tech companies founded during this period had at
least one immigrant founder. These immigrant entrepreneurs did not all just come
from countries within Europe, they also came from developing countries.
Some immigrants or children of immigrants have had a transformational impact on the
U.S. and on the world. To name a few: Sergey Brin (Google), Jerry Yang (Yahoo),
Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Andy Grove (Intel), Elon Musk (Tesla and Space X), Steve
Jobs (Apple) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft). Their companies are on the cutting edge
in their respective fields and play a key role in the technical and global
competitiveness of the U.S.
These entrepreneurs have created millions of jobs, changed how we live and put the
U.S. on the forefront of the information technology industry. We should remember and
appreciate their contributions every time we send or respond to an email or text
message, access an app, take a photo with our cell phones, or use social media.
A policy brief by the National Foundation for American Policy dated October 2017
stated that since 2000, 39% of Nobel Prizes won by Americans in physics, chemistry
and medicine have been awarded to immigrants. If Trump’s initiatives are put into
practice, how many immigrants will be denied entry into the U.S. whose children or
grandchildren could be future Nobel Prize laureates and contribute to the advancement
of U.S. global competitiveness?
Immigrants made this country great. They will continue to do so, including DACA
immigrants. As business leaders, it is our job to speak out and inform the public of the
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is the author of
recently published book, “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He
is also as a speaker, advisor and nationally syndicated columnist on leadership,
entrepreneurship and corporate governance. Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science
degree in chemical engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is
also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business
School. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.