The Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — an Obama-era executive program deferring deportation for some immigrant children and authorizing them to work in the U.S. — confirmed its inevitable demise. Over the past ten years, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have come to rely on the program’s benefits to continue living and working legally in the only country most have ever known. The time has come for Congress to protect the widely-supported DACA program that is so important to dreamers and the U.S. as a whole, shielding recipients (and U.S. citizens) from the disastrous economic consequences of ending it.

If U.S. citizens struggle to understand the personal value of the program to Dreamers, they should look to Social Security’s expiration and its resulting impacts. Many Americans are reliant on this program in the same way that Dreamers are reliant on DACA.  

The DACA program is absolutely crucial to its recipients. In turn, the U.S. also relies on Dreamers. Their economic contributions  play a significant role in boosting real GDP through tax payments, spending power, and income streams. Dreamers have over $25.3 billion in spending power and contribute over $42 billion to the U.S. GDP annually. Deporting Dreamers will result in an estimated at $7 to $21 billion — or higher–loss in revenue. The increased government spending to deport these individuals risks pushing inflation higher than the current crisis, taking more money from American taxpayer’s pockets. 

The economy, of course, is hardly the only area from which Dreamers and the U.S. benefit from the DACA program. Housing, labor, education, and healthcare also experience DACA’s wide-reaching positive effects.


DACA recipients are parents to over 300,000 children99 percent of whom are U.S. citizens and could be forced into foster care if one or both parents are deported. Around 80 percent of recipients were also concerned about the safety of their families and homelessness if they were deported. This anxiety is partly because 70 percent of Dreamers have no family connections in their “birth countries,” compounding current concerns about deportation. Without a safety network in a foreign country, DACA recipients are vulnerable to homelessness, food insecurity, and physical safety concerns.


Over 56,000 DACA recipients are homeowners with mortgages. Absent work authorization and facing deportation, it is likely that foreclosures are looming, costing $567 million in lost mortgage payments each year. These foreclosures or auctions could have massive repercussions on the economic outlook of the housing market as well as inflation. This results in plummeting financial gains and upward mobility that families obtained through DACA as they no longer have housing or the ability to finance basic necessities. 


While only 8 percent of Dreamers are current entrepreneurs and small business owners, they play a vital role in employing other workers dependent on them for income. The House Committee on Small Businesses estimated in 2018 that the impact of cuts to the DACA program is, “equivalent to an estimated 30 major regulations on employers.” This puts most of DACA’s economic impacts on employers of Dreamers who depend on them to work and can limit small business’ success as they struggle to find replacement workers. 

Over 87 percent of DACA recipients surveyed in 2020 reported that the program gave them greater financial independence. Dreamers tend to produce more successful businesses and “far exceed native-born Americans in the areas of business ownership and origination.” The ability to find success and create a more stable life for your family on the back of DACA is the quintessential “American Dream.” 

Furthermore, COVID-19 hit healthcare workers and teachers hard, and the deportation of 30,000 essential workers in these sectors will leave them massively depleted when they are needed most. Certain states with struggling labor markets, like California and Texas, will be impacted more than others. These states employ a quarter of DACA recipients in critical career fields like education and health services. The boosted wages resulting from the gaps in skilled labor will drive the current inflation crisis making Dreamer’s absence felt economically by everyday citizens. 

Following deportation, the U.S. will not only face $6.3 billion in employee turnover cost; there will also  be nearly 18 percent fewer people in the labor force. 


One in three Dreamers is enrolled in higher education, and many more have completed a Bachelor’s Degree. These opportunities have led to Dreamers having 6.4 percent higher educational attainment than current U.S. citizens.

Because most Dreamers cannot access federal aid for education or in-state tuition, work authorization allows them to work to pay for their education. In some states, students will be barred from accessing higher education due to their unauthorized status regardless of years completed and ability to pay. This not only pulls them from student communities but eliminates the possibility of upward mobility through education. 


Over half of Dreamers obtain healthcare benefits through their employers because they don’t qualify for federal aid. This could leave many uninsured if states pull employer-based healthcare for undocumented immigrants. The stress of finding alternative healthcare, especially for those with preexisting conditions, can lead to mental health strain and depression.

If Dreamers are deported, the healthcare services they utilize through employers will be unavailable, making them less likely to spend as consumers, thus hurting state and local economies with losses of more than $25 billion.Their absence will be felt by Medicare users in the healthcare system as they supplement the program through $367 million in contributions. For Dreamers who obtain health services under privatized plans, the inability to make monthly payments without a job will hurt insurance companies

Additionally, the potential shortage of 2.4 million healthcare workers in the next two years will be aggravated without the 29,000 Dreamers healthcare workers, nurses, and doctors. Their absence will be felt by elderly Americans who rely on Dreamers for home healthcare, and will force them into costly ($100,000 on average) long-term care, therefore decreasing their overall quality of life. 

For all these reasons it is imperative that Congress pass bipartisan legislation to ensure the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who rely on the DACA program are protected. The DACA program’s importance to Dreamers and the U.S. as a whole can not be overstated. It provides vital services for immigrants, which in turn benefit U.S. society at large, so protecting it legislatively is imperative to ensuring that immigrants and Americans alike continue enjoying its myriad benefits.