U.S. could lose billions in taxes with DACA, DAPA injunction, warns Jose Antonio Vargas

Young people wait in line to enter the office of The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on the first day of the DACA program in 2012. Photo:  AFP/GettyImages

Young people wait in line to enter the office of The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on the first day of the DACA program in 2012. Photo: AFP/GettyImages

By Cecile Caguingin Ochoa

Reacting to the preliminary injunction on the implementation of Obama’s new deferred action programs, Pulitzer-prize winning author of Filipino descent, Jose Antonio Vargas said the ruling of Judge Andrew Hanen could essentially impact the U.S. economy with billions of dollars loss in state and local taxes, including sales taxes.

On February 16, 2015, Hanen, a George W. Bush-appointed district court judge in Brownsville, Texas, issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of executive actions on immigration issued by President Obama. They included an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. The impact of the injunction is throughout the U.S. The injunction would cause months of delay or years perhaps even before Obama leaves office, according to a projection by the L.A. Times.

Vargas, the most well-known “undocumented” in the U.S. and executive editor of “Emerging US,” a multimedia partnership with L.A. Times wrote in his blog that “at least 1.7 million undocumented Americans—not to mention their families and friends—live, work and call Texas their home.”

He continued that undocumented workers in Texas paid $1.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010, including $1.4 billion in sales taxes and $204.4 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. This figure would skyrocket when applied to the undocumented populations in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Florida, to name a few other states with a high number of immigrants “with no papers.”

Vargas is executive editor of Emerging US, a multimedia partnership with L.A. Times

Vargas is executive editor of Emerging US, a multimedia partnership with L.A. Times

Citing a report by the Perryman Group, Vargas wrote, “If undocumented workers left Texas, the state would lose $69.3 billion in economic activity, $30.8 billion in gross state product, and approximately 403,174 jobs. Half of the state’s nearly 1 million construction workers have no papers.”

The Perryman Group is an economic and financial analysis firm headquartered in Waco, Texas. The group is widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential and innovative economists.

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, immigrant advocates like Advancing Justice – L.A. (AJ-LA), New America Media and Pilipino Workers’ Centers, quickly convened press conferences and community meetings immediately after the ruling persuading people to continue to apply for DACA and DAPA.

AJ-LA Executive Director Stewart Kwoh said that “while the ruling delays the start date for millions of immigrants to come forward and apply for deportation relief and work permits, it is important to note that the Texas court’s decision is only temporary and is likely to be overturned by a higher court.

Meanwhile, the court ruling does not impact the existing DACA program, which continues to operate with over 600,000 individuals already granted DACA and many more eligible who can apply immediately.

The White House announced on February 20 it would seek an emergency stay of Hansen’s order that froze the programs. A stay would keep Hanen’s order from being in effect wile the appeals continue.

Kwoh said DACA and DAPA are victories that immigrant communities won.

“In California, we are moving forward regardless of today’s ruling, and will continue getting ready for the deferred action programs that will give millions of immigrants the chance to come out of the shadows and have an opportunity for a better life,” he said. “We have confidence in the legal grounds for the programs and are disappointed that this lawsuit wastes precious resources that could be better used for outreaching to and educating eligible immigrants, particularly in the Asian American community where fear and misunderstandings about the programs run deep.”

“Do not be discouraged or afraid to apply,” said Anthony Ng, an immigrant rights advocate at AJ-LA. “We believe that it is a matter of when, not if, these programs will accept applications. The law is on the side of the immigrants who fought hard for these programs as well as those who have been awaiting the opportunity to submit their applications.”

AJ- LA Immigration Project Director Aman Thind urged undocumented immigrants to continue to prepare their applications for expanded DACA and DAPA, or move forward on applications under the original DACA program.

“We stand ready to assist those who qualify for the current DACA program and will continue to prepare those who qualify for the expanded DACA and DAPA programs.”

He said consultations are strictly confidential and that his organization provides multilingual and culturally sensitive legal services to the many diverse communities of Los Angeles and Orange County.

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