1. Passing the buck to Congress
Putting aside the absolute fecklessness of President Trump’s decision on Tuesday to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the move will have significant and negative real-world effects. But first let’s just take a moment to marinate in the cowardice of the decision. Remember, this is a man who said during a press conference in February that DACA recipients were “some absolutely, incredible kids,” and pledged that his administration would “deal with DACA with heart.” Just for emphasis, he added, “I love these kids, I love kids, I have kids and grandkids.” By rescinding DACA with a “wind-down process” to give Congress the opportunity to act, Trump made a discretionary decision while tossing the buck to Republican lawmakers who will be facing mid-term elections next year and potentially receiving the wrath of conservative constituents who have been baying for blood.
2. Forcing young people back into the shadows
Consider what this means to one person.
“For me and thousands of other young people in North Carolina, DACA has been nothing short of life changing,” said Yazmin Garcia Rico, a Guilford College graduate who is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at UNC-Chapel Hill. “DACA has given me the chance to open a bank account, buy a car, and pursue my dreams while investing in my community. Revoking this program will mean that hundreds of thousands of young people could lose their ability to drive, to work, and to continue living in the country where we grew up and have established our lives. We are active and productive members of American society — we should not be forced back into the shadows.”
3. Lost tax revenue, lower wages
Now, multiply the personal devastation and reduction in consumer demand across the 750,000-800,000 DACA recipients across the country. Considering that most DACA recipients don’t even know the countries they’re supposed to go “back” to, may not know the language and have little concept of how to survive, the most realistic assumption is that they’ll retreat into the shadows. The libertarian Cato Institute projects that ending DACA will drive them into illegal employment, at wages 10 percent to 20 percent of what they previously earned working on the books. That means they’ll drive down wages for other low-wage workers (presumably the “forgotten Americans” Trump championed during the campaign). It also means a loss of payroll and income tax revenue, as well as sales tax revenue “as a result of greater consumption associated with higher incomes.” All told, the Cato Institute estimates that ending DACA will result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
4. Reinforcing white supremacy
While the decision is a cruel blow to immigrant families and fails to deliver benefits to the wider population, it essentially sends a gratifying signal to Trump’s white nationalist base that they’re still at the top of the social pecking order. It’s a crappy bargain for white workers — continued exploitation for the benefit of elites in exchange for the illusion of social dominance — that’s as old as the history of America.