Business Lobby: Ending DACA Would Be ‘Catastrophic’ for Coronavirus Fight

People wait in line outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, to be able to attend oral arguments in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/AP Photo

Pro-migration and business lobbyists are using the coronavirus epidemic in a last-ditch effort to save President Barack Obama’s 2012 DACA amnesty.

“At a minimum, the Court should force the Trump Administration to account for the interests of employers, our health care system … and explain why it’s in our nation’s interest to end this vital and successful [DACA] program,” said an April 20 press statement from Todd Schulte, the director of the advocacy group. said

The Supreme Court is expected to announce shortly if President Trump has the authority to end Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty. Obama announced the giveaway of work permits and deportation exemptions to 800,000 illegals during a June 2012 campaign-style speech in the Rose Garden.

“Ending DACA … would deal a catastrophic blow to our efforts to fight the pandemic and further devastate our economy,” said Schulte, whose group was founded by wealthy West Coast investors, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, to help pass the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty.

Shulte’s pro-business pitch came as a group of lawyers submitted a last-minute April 20 plea to the court, saying that the Department of Homeland Security wrongly failed to assess the harmful impact of ending DACA on the companies which employ the DACA migrants:

The COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting mobilization of resources, provide a vivid illustration of some of the reliance interests engendered by the program that the agency failed to consider – namely, those borne by healthcare and other essential service providers that employ DACA recipients. While the agency could not have predicted the pandemic, at the very least it was required to give adequate consideration to the significant adverse consequences of termination for these and other key societal actors who rely on and benefit from the work of DACA recipients. It failed to do so.

The legal brief was submitted by the National Immigration Law Center, an establishment-funded advocacy group whose board includes the executive director of the nation’s most prominent immigration law firm. It continued:

Healthcare providers on the frontlines of our nation’s fight against COVID-19 rely significantly upon DACA recipients to perform essential work. Approximately 27,000 DACA recipients are healthcare workers—including nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, technicians, and other staff—and nearly 200 are medical students, residents, and physicians.

Schulte claimed that the ending of DACA would be “catastrophic,” even though the court is expected to end the program slowly. That would give time for President Donald Trump and allied GOP legislators the time and opportunity to offer a partial DACA amnesty to Democrats in exchange for legal curbs on the ability of investors and CEOs to import consumers or hire foreign workers instead of Americans.

Any increase in the population of illegal workers is a double benefit for companies and investors: The illegal workers reduce each company’s payroll costs and inflate each company’s sales.

But any increased supply of labor and consumers is a household problem for the roughly 150 million Americans who make their living from wages and salaries. The additional legal or illegal migration cuts their salaries and wages; raises their rents, housing prices, and commutes; and often reduces the education resources going to their kids.

Schulte’s press statement included links to three studies that play up the role of immigrants in the nation’s healthcare system. However, the pitch is offset by the reality that trained DACA workers comprise a tiny slice of the nation’s healthcare workforce, many of whom have not been mobilized against the diseases.

Breitbart News reported April 8 that:

“DACA recipients simply do not comprise large a share of workers, and that is certainly true in a huge sector of the economy like health care,” says an April 7 study by the Center for Immigration Studies.

“The best augment for legalizing DACA recipients is that they came [to the United States] at young ages, not that they play a big role in fighting the epidemic,” author Steve Camarota wrote to Breitbart News.

“Based on the occupations CAP reported in their table, 29,000 (or 28,2000) [DACA healthcare workers] translates to just 0.2% of the nation’s 14.5 million health care workers, as CAP defines it,” Camarota wrote.

Camarota told Breitbart News:

Probably the two occupations that seem the most relevant to combating the Wuhan Virus are registered nurses and health technologists and technicians, which includes licensed practical nurses and jobs like pharmacy technicians.  The ACS shows that there are 3.3 million registered nurses working in the country and 3 million technologists and technicians, making DACA recipients just 0.1% and 0.2% of these occupations respectively.  Again, even assuming CAP’s estimates are correct, DACA recipients in the most relevant occupations are a miniscule share of workers.

Moreover, the DACA migrants are far outnumbered by non-working American healthcare professionals — including legal immigrants — who can be recruited for the emergency, especially if employers offer them a bonus because of the health risk, he said:

The Census data also shows there were 41,000 unemployed registered nurses and 67,000 unemployment technicians in 2018.  In addition, there were 860,000 nurses and technicians who are out of the labor force entirely, but who reported having worked in these fields in the prior five years.  So there is a huge pool of people who can be drawn upon if a few thousand DACA nurses and technicians were deported.

Many additional healthcare experts have volunteered to work on the disease in New York and California, but have not been mobilized by the state government, according to press reports. The New York Times reported April 18;

As of Wednesday, more than 90,000 retired and active health care workers had signed up online to volunteer at the epicenter of the pandemic, including 25,000 from outside New York, the governor’s office said.

Putting them to work, however, has been a different story.

New York City hospitals have only deployed 908 volunteers as of Wednesday, according to city health officials.


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