According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Florida ranks fifth among states for the number of enrollees in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. These 26,900 young people, also known as “Dreamers,” arrived in the U.S. before age 16 with their parents and have met several eligibility requirements for the program. Enrolling in DACA provides Dreamers with a temporary deferral from deportation and work authorization so they can pursue educational and professional opportunities in the U.S.
A recent report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) sheds light on how much Dreamers contribute to their local communities. Like all Americans, Dreamers pay state and local taxes when they purchase goods and services, as well as through direct property taxes as homeowners or indirectly as renters. Because they are provided with work authorization and temporary Social Security numbers, their earnings are taxed at the same rate as other workers. These taxes support the range of programs and services that uphold our communities, from schools to infrastructure, and parks to public safety.
ITEP estimates that the 1.3 million current and eligible enrollees in DACA contribute $1.7 billion in state and local taxes nationally. If all eligible individuals enrolled in the program, the state and local tax contributions of Dreamers would increase by $815 million. On the other hand, repealing DACA would result in a $700 million reduction in Dreamers’ state and local tax contributions.
In Florida, Dreamers currently contribute almost $78 million in state and local taxes. If DACA protections end, this would result in the loss of $18.1 million in state and local tax revenues.
Despite evidence that DACA benefits both individuals and communities, in September of last year the future of DACA became uncertain when the Administration ordered the end of the program by March 2018. Following several lawsuits, on April 24 a federal judge ordered that DACA be reinstated and start accepting applications. The federal government has 90 days to respond.
With the status of DACA in the balance, many of those who are eligible to participate have been discouraged from applying or renewing their status. Reinstating DACA would encourage more eligible individuals to apply, allowing them to not only secure their own well-being but also make important contributions to the communities that they call home.