Ending DACA Doesn't Just Hurt Immigrants -- Businesses Across the U.S. Will Feel the Impact

Dreamers are small-business owners, employees and consumers who contribute much to the national economy.

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By John Suh

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The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was introduced in 2012 as an opportunity to protect from deportation people who were brought into the United States as children. Many of these recipients had no control over relocating to America and as such this program was created to help them maintain a better life. But this legislation has been at the forefront of government debate since the Trump administration ended the program in September 2017.

Related: Every Entrepreneur Is a Dreamer. Ending DACA Is a Blow to All of Us, Wherever We Were Born.

Congress has been unsuccessfully fighting to pass legislation to save DACA. Lawmakers caught a break this spring when the Supreme Court denied a Trump administration appeal to cancel the program, disregarding the two injunctions issued by lower courts. And most recently, when a federal judge ordered the full restart of DACA citing the original rationale for shuttering the program as inadequate. The Trump administration now has until Aug. 23 to appeal the ruling or restart the program.

Congress can now use this time to work toward implementing replacement legislation to help those in the program, commonly referred to as "Dreamers." The Trump administration's ability to appeal could potentially extend this long-standing fight and Congress will need to proceed with urgency to help those individuals who have worked hard to support themselves and their families. Should DACA legislation lapse, there would be a massive impact on thousands of individuals and the economy. The close to 700,000 existing DACA recipients are able to stay in the country and obtain work permits, playing meaningful roles in our economy as both employees and employers.

Since our country's founding, immigrants have made up a major component of the U.S. employers demographic, and today a significant segment of this group holds DACA status. According to the Center for American Progress; 5 percent of DACA recipients started their own business after receiving the status -- compared to a 3.1 percent rate among the American public as a whole.

Related: This Venezuelan Chef and Winner of 'Chopped' Sought Political Asylum to Pursue Her Entrepreneurial Dreams

The American Dream for these immigrants is often a simple small business, which is the epicenter of American commerce. Businesses like local "mom and pop" restaurants and stores could be shuttered without DACA. There are over 28.8 million small businesses in America, accounting for a whopping 99.7 percent of all U.S. businesses. These businesses employ almost half of the country (48 percent), and these employees continuously add value to the U.S. economy. Take away a large portion of those jobs and a fiscal shock wave will occur.

When analyzing DACA immigrants as employees, there is continued proof of positive and longstanding impact to the economy. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies, including Walmart, Apple, GM, Amazon and JPMorgan, employ DACA recipients. Additionally, Dreamers hold an extremely high rate of employment, with 91 percent currently employed.

The Center for American Progress found that gaining DACA status has a positive impact on wages as well. The average hourly wage of recipients increased by 69 percent after receiving DACA status -- growing from $10.29 to $17.46 per hour. An increased salary means increased purchasing power. So, these individuals can continually add fuel to the country's economic engine by buying cars, purchasing homes and growing their families -- components of a better life constantly sought in the country founded on it.

Related: A First-Generation American Entrepreneur Reflects on the Immigration Proposal That Would Have Barred His Parents

If the Trump administration and Congress fail to pass any permanent plan to help DACA recipients stay in this country, the U.S. will face a series of repercussions as the number of small businesses decrease, along with the health of our economy as a whole. DACA allows for an increase in U.S. small businesses and new job creation. The continued hope of achieving the American Dream. It generates an influx of higher-earning members of the workforce. Sending these Dreamers out of the U.S. will hurt not only them but all of us.

John Suh

CEO at LegalZoom

John Suh has served as LegalZoom’s CEO since 2007 and as a member of the board since 2005. A serial entrepreneur, he has taken multiple businesses from startup to more than $20 million and helped some existing companies grow to over $100 million in revenues.

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