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Business leaders predict ‘crisis’ if courts end ‘Dreamers’ protections

More than 80 executives told Congress their companies would suffer without a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

A protester holds up a sign during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 12, 2019, as justices were hearing arguments on the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
A protester holds up a sign during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 12, 2019, as justices were hearing arguments on the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Dozens of business leaders warned Congress of an impending “crisis” for the economy if lawmakers don’t pass laws to protect young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

In a letter to congressional leaders released Thursday, more than 80 company executives said their businesses would suffer if protections for the embattled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ended.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled against the decade-old program that allows hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to avoid deportation and work legally.

The business leaders said gutting DACA protections would exacerbate workforce shortages that have dogged the economy for months. Signers included Amazon, Apple, General Motors, IBM, Microsoft, Target and Verizon. The group said it also ran the letter in a full-page advertisement in Thursday editions of The Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer.

“The worker shortage will get worse for the United States if hundreds of thousands of critical workers are stripped of their legal ability to support themselves and their families,” the business leaders wrote. “That is the situation we currently face if this ruling becomes final, and it is the reason for our request today.”

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit decided that the Department of Homeland Security does not have the authority to provide protections to those immigrants under DACA and reasoned that the program violates Congress’ intent when it crafted the immigration statutes.

The recent court ruling is only the latest setback for the DACA program, which has faced legal challenges from Republican-led states for years. The court left in place an order allowing current DACA recipients to renew their protections, but new applicants are still blocked. It also sent the case back to a lower court to consider a new Biden administration rule that seeks to fortify the program from legal challenges.

Eventually, the challenge to DACA could reach the Supreme Court, where there is a 6-3 conservative majority that could end the program created during the Obama administration.

If DACA recipients’ work permits expire, the business leaders said, the U.S. could lose more than half a million jobs and up to $11.7 billion in wages from previously employed immigrants.

“To put this into perspective, in Texas alone, 400 healthcare workers and 300 teachers will be forced out of their jobs each month,” the business leaders wrote.

The court ruling spurred calls for action among Democratic lawmakers in Congress, who have spent months attempting to pass immigration legislation. Their efforts have been thwarted by Republicans, who have little interest in compromising on immigration at a time of skyrocketing border crossings.

The Senate has yet to take up a House-passed bill that would put DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants, including younger people who came to the United States as children after 2007, on a path to permanent status.

However, Congress has only a few weeks after the midterm elections to take up immigration protections while also considering the annual defense policy bill, government spending bills and other measures. With Republicans favored to win the House, prospects are dim for a deal next Congress.

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