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California would see, at minimum, an extra $6.1 billion a year if Congress passes the bipartisan Dream Act, and other states' gains are significant—especially as Dreamers get their degrees.
California’s 515,000 Dream Act-eligible workers represent a leading $6.1 billion annual increase in state gross domestic product, should they receive permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship, according to a new Center for American Progress study.
Dreamers, as they’re called, are undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and all approximately 800,000 are at risk for deportation since President Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Passing the bipartisan Dream Act—S.1615 in the U.S. Senate and H.R.3440 in the House—would add at least $281 billion to the nation’s GDP during the next decade, while California, Texas ($3.4 billion), New York ($1.8 billion), Florida ($1.2 billion), and Illinois ($1.2 billion) stand to gain the most at the state level.
“This study is yet more evidence of just how powerful a catalyst the Dream Act would be for states and industries, including construction, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality,” said Philip E. Wolgin, managing director for the progressive advocacy organization’s immigration policy team, in a statement. “It’s no surprise we’ve seen business and elected leaders from across the country show their support for passing the Dream Act immediately.”
California’s annual GDP increase could reach as high as $20.3 billion with an “education bump,” a scenario in which half of Dream Act-eligible workers in the state obtain lawful permanent residency by earning their associate’s degree or two year’s toward a bachelor’s degree—thereby improving their productivity.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was instrumental in forcing Trump’s hand in eliminating DACA, threatened to sue the federal government if the program wasn’t ended by Sept. 5. But his state, with its 306,000 Dream Act-eligible workers, could witness an $11.4 billion annual GDP increase with the education bump.
New Hampshire and Wyoming tied with a state-low 1,000 Dream Act-eligible workers each, representing a $4.5 million to $14.9 million annual GDP increase in the former’s case and a $22.7 million to $75.7 million increase in the latter’s.
At the industry level, construction companies would benefit from Dreamers, especially in hurricane-affected areas, according to the report. As would the leisure and hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, educational, and health services sectors.
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.