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Business/Economy

Immigrant Advocates And Business Leaders Make The Economic Case for DACA

Martin Batalia Vidal
Jacquelyn Martin
/
Associated Press
In this Nov. 12, 2019, file photo people rally outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), at the Supreme Court in Washington. The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a federal judge ruled last week.

Supporters of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals say any threat to DACA also threatens the economy. Texas has the second largest DACA-eligible population in the U.S. and nearly 94% of this group is employed.

Supporters of the program known as Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals were thrilled when a federal judge last week ordered the Trump Administration to fully restore the program – and begin accepting new applications.

But now their focus has shifted to an upcoming hearing in a case brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other Republican attorneys general. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has scheduled the hearing for Dec. 22 and both sides are waiting to see if Hanen will rule on whether DACA is legal.

In the meantime, immigrant advocates are making the case that any threat to DACA is a threat to the economy.

This week, business leaders and immigration experts came together to discuss the impact of the nearly 214,000 DACA-eligible residents in Texas, during a virtual forum hosted by FWD.us.

Texas has the second largest DACA-eligible population in the country, according to the bipartisan group New American Economy. Almost 94 percent of this group is employed and nearly 8,500 are entrepreneurs.

“Those are folks that are starting businesses, starting small businesses. They’re the ones that are involved in Chambers across the state,” said Chelsie Kramer, State Organizer for New American Economy. “They’re the ones that are creating jobs for all Americans and that’s what also so so important for a lot of these small communities, especially during a pandemic when we really are needing to rely on each other to help get through it.”

Kramer pointed to her group’s research, which shows that DACA-eligible households in Texas pay nearly $413 million in local and state sales taxes, an amount she said state leaders would be hard pressed to make up.

Other DACA advocates say there are numerous misperceptions about DACA recipients.

“DACA recipients, myself included, we pay federal taxes and we do not receive federal programs in response," said Andrea Ramos Fernandez, who’s the San Antonio and Austin Business Coalition Manager for the Texas Business Immigration Coalition.

“I had to figure out ways to fund my education by my own way," Fernandez added. "My parents worked overtime – they’re essential workers. They work in restaurants and you can only imagine based on like a minimum wage, how long it took for them to help me to pay for my education.”

Got a tip? Email Reporter Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter at @stellamchavez.

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