Santa Ana – The Public Law Center, Orange County’s Pro Bono Law Firm, is deeply disappointed in today’s Trump administration decision to end the bipartisan-supported Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. In addition to throwing the lives of approximately 800,000 DACA recipients and their families into disarray and driving hard working Americans into the underground, the ill-advised policy change will derail an estimated $460 billion boost to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade. Congress must now provide leadership in crafting a solution to protect the DREAMers before today’s decision is fully implemented.
Since 2012, PLC has served 1,500 people seeking DACA assistance, resulting in 700 completed applications and 400 direct representations of clients. Through collaborative efforts like Ready California and the OC Opportunity Initiative, a project of the Orange County Community Foundation, PLC has been a leader in Orange County efforts to increase awareness of DACA-related services and to assist those who are eligible. Our experiences serving DACA-eligible community members reinforce the conclusions of a recent national survey led by Dr. Tom K. Wong of UC San Diego – DACA recipients play a critical role in the American economy and in American society.
In 2012, undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $3.3 billion in California State and local taxes. Ninety-one percent of respondents to Dr. Wong’s survey of DACA recipients are currently working and 45 percent are currently in school. Twenty-three percent of respondents 25 years and older purchased their first home while 8 percent started their own business after receiving DACA – 5 percentage points higher than the general American public. In addition, 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DACA recipients. These companies account for $2.8 trillion in annual revenue and support the continuation of the DACA program.
Now, families will be torn apart, employers will lose trusted employees, and community trust will erode. Despite this devastating setback, PLC will continue to serve and support DREAMers and their families, as well as all immigrant communities seeking an opportunity to contribute to the health and prosperity of Orange County.