People Protected Under DACA Have Big Impact on Virginia Economy

Jan 3, 2018

Demonstrators hold up balloons during an immigration rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), programs, near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Credit AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana

Congress is in the midst of a heated discussion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy that will have important consequences for families across the country. But, as Michael Pope reports, it will also have dramatic consequences for Virginia’s economy.

What would happen to Virginia’s economy if 40,000 undocumented immigrants brought here as children were not eligible for permanent residency? Chad Stewart at the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis says the hit would be a whopper. At stake is $52 million in state and local tax revenue, he says, the difference between a $30 million loss and a $22 million gain.

“If we take the average teacher salary in the state, which is $51,000. That loss in revenue equals about 1,000 teacher salaries in the state. So that’s not small money for Virginia.”

Ronald Wilcox is president of the Commonwealth Tea Party of Virginia. He says those numbers don’t answer a broader question about immigration.

“It’s not a question of dollars and sense. It’s a question of whether or not you have a sovereign country and sovereign borders and your immigration policy is in the best interest of the citizens of the country.”

Time is running out for a fix to the program that deferred action to undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children. If Congress does not take action in the next few months, all of the individuals granted protection under the program will be vulnerable to detention and deportation. That will have a cost for Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.