By Brett Linley
It happens so often, it almost seems normal. Once more, per Politico, we may find ourselves on the brink of a government shut down. Various issues have triggered this fanfare in the past. This time, the wedge issue is DREAMers.
House conservatives have warned Speaker Paul Ryan against lumping a fix for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors into a year-end spending deal.
Conservatives aren’t the only ones holding up proceedings, however. Many liberals have also pledged not to support a bill that doesn’t address the DREAMer issue. While no one wants to take the blame for a shut down, no one wants to upset their grassroots base, either.
In the end, it’s hard to see either side budging. Most Democrats will not accept any strings attatched for DREAMer citizenship. Many Republicans, on the other hand, want to tie a plethura of issues, from border security to E-Verify, to any potential bill.
While this debate reveals the increasingly toxic political environment in America, there are bigger problems at stake. The left would be wise to stop trying to tie a non-fiscal issue into the budget. The right, however, should reconsider their headstrong opposition to DREAMers.
Put emotional and compassionate arguments on the backburner. When it comes to these young people, already assimilated into the country, allowing them to stay is just common sense.
The DREAM Act: Good Policy, Bad Implimentation
Perhaps one of the biggest issues conservatives have with the DREAM Act, and rightly so, is how it came to be. In 2012, President Obama deferred deportations for illegal immigrants who came here as minors. Instead of going through Congress, the President merely used a penstroke to issue his executive order. A clear expansion of the imperial presidency, this was wrong.
Members of the left will often justify this with emotional appeals, none of which are terribly convincing for right-leaning audiences. What should be convincing, however, is the economic benefit of allowing these people to stay. If authorized by Congress, Trump should allow DREAMers to stay and help make America wealthy.
When it comes to the economics, the consensus is fairly clear. Bloomberg View published a piece voicing the belief that DREAMers actually strengthen the economy.
Dreamers not only add [an estimated] several hundred billion dollars to the economy over a decade, but also generate billions of dollars of additional tax revenue. How? They pay more in taxes than they consume from government programs, in part because they are not eligible for means-tested federal benefits.
Bloomberg isn’t the only one. Fortune also believes that, if the program is ended, “The United States could lose up to 700,000 jobs and suffer billions of dollars in lost economic output.” Even CNBC, not exactly a bastion of liberal thought, cited a study stating that even conservative Texas “would lose $6.1 billion in GDP annually.”
Don’t Toss a Good Investment
If Trump forces DREAMers out, a wide swath of economic productivity will go with them. It’s not just that these young people only know America as home. It’s that while they’ve been here, they’ve been picking up skills to become productive citizens.
Imagine that you coach a sports franchise. In your mind, picture having an athlete that you’ve coached up from a rookie over a period of years. Now, this young person is ready to be productive and possibly a star. If you found out that this person broke a minor law, years and years ago in highschool, would he stop being valuable? It would make little sense to throw your future, and your investment, away over spite.
Per a Cato Institute study, these young people are also considerably less likely (almost 14% less) than native born Americans to commit crimes. Their only crime was in violating arbitrary law, oftentimes so long ago that they don’t remember doing it. As Vox reports, many may not have learned that they even did it until they became teenagers.
So ultimately, it comes down to this. The left needs to learn where these issues belong, and it isn’t in the budget. They also must come to respect that these issues are in the domain of the Congress, not the executive branch. For the right, the lesson is even easier. There’s nothing simpler to understand than dollars and cents, and keeping DREAMers amounts to a whole lot of them. If politicians allow a simple issue like this to shut the government down, then it’s undoubtedly time to clean house.