Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a program that provides legal protections and work authorization to immigrants who otherwise lack legal status but were brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own. In place since 2012, DACA currently protects over 570,000 Dreamers, the majority of whom have been productive members of the American economy for years.

Despite the well-documented contributions of DACA recipients, the program continues to hang in legal limbo. For two decades, Congress has failed to authorize permanent protection, and now, some Republican states are suing to terminate the program. While activists scramble for solutions ahead of an inauspicious Supreme Court decision, the door is open for Canada to poach yet another crucial group of U.S. residents.

In recent months, Canada has escalated its efforts to actively recruit immigrants with work experience in the U.S. or an American education. From creating a new visa for specialized foreign workers in the U.S. to running targeted ads for individuals frustrated with the American immigration system, Canada and its businesses have long since benefited from the dysfunction of our immigration laws. 

While Canada has not yet publicly attempted to entice DACA recipients to consider northern migration, it may be a matter of time before it does. DACA recipients would be competitive applicants for Canadian visa pathways like the points-based Express Entry program designed to attract the world’s best and brightest. 

Express Entry does not require employer sponsorship and instead awards points for qualifying factors like work experience, English language proficiency, and education. Points are also assigned according to age, with applicants between 18 and 35 receiving the highest possible age points

The average DACA recipient is 29 years old, and nearly half have college degrees. More than 80 percent of DACA recipients are working, and most have lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, receiving the majority, if not all, of their formal education here. Although many DACA recipients are bilingual, surveys indicate that “over 90 percent speak English well, or better.” By these standards, most DACA recipients would likely receive high scores that could result in invitations to migrate. 

Given the number of American corporations that have previously voiced support for their Dreamer employees, it is easy to imagine employers willing to sponsor employees who transfer to their Canadian offices through other visa pathways should they lose work authorization here. 

If Canada poached these Dreamers, the United States would face significant economic losses as Canada reaps the benefits of highly productive U.S.-trained immigrants. 

For instance, Dreamers would pay their rent or mortgage in Canada, which, in the U.S., currently generates $272 billion in economic activity every month. They would spend money on groceries, clothes, transportation, and services in Canada. 

The U.S. would also lose teachers and essential workers while Canada filled its labor market gaps with our American-educated talent. The nearly $40 billion that Dreamers would contribute to Social Security and Medicare over the next ten years would instead bolster the Canadian social security system. 

Even after taxes, DACA-recipient households still hold over $25 billion in spending power, but if they go to Canada, their money will likely go with them. Under the Express Entry program, selected candidates receive permanent residence for themselves, their spouses or common-law partners, and their dependent children. Even temporary foreign worker programs in Canada permit immediate family members to accompany the beneficiary and work. 

With over 300,000 U.S. citizen children, the impacts of their departure would represent a significant loss for the U.S. economy and labor market when we are already struggling to fill the jobs we need. DACA recipients are, on average, more educated than the native-born U.S. population and have higher workforce participation rates. Yet, without action, we risk losing these productive individuals raised with American values, educated in the American school system, and trained in the American labor market. 

We have already witnessed Canada siphoning thousands of our valuable immigrant workers and taking advantage of our inability to create policies that retain the talent we attract and cultivate. If we do not act on DACA, Canada will also take advantage of this opportunity by becoming the haven that DACA recipients have been seeking in the U.S. for over a decade. Bipartisan solutions can protect Dreamers and allow them to stay and contribute to the only home they’ve ever truly known. Timely action is imperative.