When Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was enacted in 2012, small business owners rejoiced. Hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S., called Dreamers, could step out of the shadows to work, go to school, pay tax, and openly invest in the communities where they were raised. DACA added strength and stability to the families, the economy, and Main Street.
Now with President Trump’s disastrous DACA repeal, small business owners once again join immigrant rights groups, big and small companies alike, unions, and countless others in voicing collective anger and disapproval. It’s clear Trump’s decision on DACA was largely politically motivated - appealing to the members of his base who are ardently xenophobic, while passing the buck and forcing the responsibility for the lives of more than 800,000 people and their families on Congress.
Members of Congress have already stepped up, with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) reintroducing the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) Act in recent months. The DREAM Act is critical legislation, and small business owners urge Congress to move quickly to pass it.
Here’s why small businesses need Congress to act now:
Small business owners hire Dreamers. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, representing 63 percent of new private sector job growth. Small businesses thrive when they can hire and retain quality employees - not an easy feat. According to a Gallup poll, 53% of small businesses cite it being hard or extremely hard to recruit quality employees. Eighty seven percent of DACA recipients are working and paying tax, and kicking nearly 700,000 young people off the employment rolls makes it even harder to find and hire skilled, committed workers. The Center for American Progress estimates that the DACA employee turnover would cost $3.4 billion.
Dreamers are small business customers. Small businesses rely on a strong economy with plenty of customers. Repealing DACA without a solution from Congress would have devastating impacts on the economy and small businesses’ bottom lines. Experts estimate that repealing DACA would reduce the country’s GDP by $433.4 billion over a decade. As wages disappear and tax revenue dries up, the ripple effect of cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs from the economy would hit Main Street small businesses hard.
Dreamers pay into Social Security and Medicare. Repealing DACA without passing the DREAM Act is equivalent to major cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Since employees contribute portions of their income to Social Security and Medicare each month, a DACA repeal would cut funds by $24.6 billion over a decade. These essential American programs are critical investments in the well-being of our country that help local economies and spur new opportunities for small businesses.
- Small businesses, Dreamers, and their communities need stability. Uncertainty is never good for business. Almost all small business owners will tell you that they plan out their budgets from year to year, with very little room for error. Not knowing whether Congress will act to find a permanent solution or if they will need to lay off their many of their employees in six months, small businesses are stuck in a place of limbo.