Press Releases

Senate Panel Examines Costs and Benefits of Executive Action on Immigration

President's Executive Action will increase GDP by $90 billion over 10 years

Feb 05 2015

WASHINGTON – During a Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, highlighted the economic benefits of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action to Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Resident (DAPA) and underscored the need for comprehensive immigration reform. The hearing, “Deferred Action on Immigration: Implications and Unanswered Questions,” examined the logistical, financial and national security implications of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) expansion and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.

Established in June 2012, the initial DACA program offered a 2-year deportation reprieve and potential work authorization to young adults who were brought to the United States as children and have clean records. In November 2014, President Obama announced plans to expand DACA and extend “Deferred Action to Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).” DAPA would grant a three-year reprieve from deportation and potential work authorization to the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents who have a clean record.

According to the Council of Economic Advisers, these programs, with other immigration policies announced in November 2014, would increase the national gross domestic product by $90 billion over the next 10 years and a decrease in federal deficits between $25 billion and $60 billion over the next 10 years. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), blocking or repealing DACA and DAPA, which is proposed in the House of Representatives bill (H.R. 240), would cost the U.S. economy $7.5 billion over ten years.

“There are more than 11 million people living in this country without documentation. We would not be able to remove them all even if we wanted to try – and we shouldn’t try,” Ranking Member Carper said. “Some of these individuals are young adults brought here as children with no choice of their own in the matter.  They are American in every way, except on paper. Others are productive and law-abiding parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have lived here for decades. Allowing these folks who live in our communities to work legally and pay full taxes will be good for both our economy and for our federal budget.”

Bo Cooper, Former General Counsel at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, also underscored the need for and benefits of the programs.

“DACA and DAPA give a measure of safety to the citizen child to alleviate the fear that her undocumented mother will be sent to her country of origin despite the fact that she has lived in the United States for decades. No longer do undocumented but otherwise law-abiding immigrants have to fear that a call to report a crime against them will result in their own deportation,” Mr. Cooper testified. “DACA and DAPA bear the mark of good policy not only because they improve our government but also because they enhance public safety, further our values as a Nation, and improve the lives of millions of human beings who, because of their long-standing residency and citizen or permanent resident children, are integrated into the fabric of American society.”

During the hearing, Ranking Member Carper underscored the need for a larger Senate debate on comprehensive immigration reform, and cautioned against addressing these programs on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“Last Congress, two-thirds of the Senate – both Democrats and Republicans – came together to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill,” Ranking Member Carper said. “The bill was not perfect, but it addressed a number of issues that have plagued our immigration system for years and would have reduced our deficit by $1 trillion for the next 20 years.  Unfortunately, the House did not act on that legislation. Faced with paralysis here in Congress and the continued inefficiency and unfairness in our immigration system, the President decided to try and make several temporary improvements. Those improvements – or changes – were not meant to be permanent, but they are what bring us to this debate today.

“While there is considerable disagreement about what the President has done, I hope we can all agree that this hearing is the proper forum to have a debate on immigration policy. I do not believe we should be threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security – an agency vital to our nation’s security – over disagreements with the President’s policies. In the next several days, I hope that most of us can come together to do what I believe is the right thing – support the passage of a clean, full-year appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security by February 27th  -- and then get to work to pass a thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform bill that is worthy of this body in which all of us are privileged to serve.” 

Below is the full opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) as prepared for delivery:

“We are here today to learn more about the implementation of the President’s executive actions on immigration.  I think that is fair and reasonable oversight for this Committee. As with any new government initiative, there are likely to be a variety of bureaucratic challenges that must be addressed.  So I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses about the challenges that might lie ahead, as well as some possible solutions. 

“Last Congress, this Committee – and the entire Senate –spent a great deal of time examining our nation’s broken immigration system. After months of debate, two-thirds of the Senate – both Democrats and Republicans – came together to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

“The bill was not perfect, but it addressed a number of issues that have plagued our immigration system for years. Perhaps just as important, it would have also reduced our budget deficit by nearly $200 billion over the next 10 years and by an additional $700 billion over the following 10 years. Moreover, it would have grown our gross domestic product by as much as five percent over the next 20 years.

“As we know, unfortunately, the House did not act on that legislation. As a result, we continue to be left with a broken immigration system that meets neither our economic nor our security needs. Faced with paralysis here in Congress and the continued inefficiency and unfairness in our immigration system, the President decided to try and make several temporary improvements, hoping it would spur those of us in the Congress to finish the job we began almost two years ago.  Those improvements – or changes – were not meant to be permanent, but they are what bring us to this debate today.

“Look, I know that many of our colleagues have strong misgivings about the President acting on his own on these matters. Nonetheless, I hope we can set aside any frustration over tactics and look at the substance of what the Administration is trying to do.  If we can find a way to do that, I think we just might find room for common ground at the end of the day.  After all, that’s what the American people sent us here to do.

“There are more than 11 million people living in this country without documentation. We would not be able to remove them all even if we wanted to try – and we shouldn’t try.  Some of these individuals are young adults brought here as children with no choice of their own in the matter.  They are American in every way, except on paper. Others are productive and law-abiding parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have lived here for decades. 

“Allowing these folks who live in our communities to work legally and pay full taxes will be good for both our economy and for our federal budget. In fact, the Council of Economic Advisers estimated that these new Administration initiatives, along with other immigration policies announced in November, would increase our nation’s gross domestic product by $90 billion over the next 10 years.  These changes would also lead to a decrease in federal deficits by somewhere between $25 billion and $60 billion over the next 10 years.

“Blocking or repealing the Administration’s initiatives would take us backwards.  In fact, just last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the House bill to block these deferred deportation programs that the Senate declined to take up and consider yesterday would cost our economy $7.5 billion over ten years.

“Estimates indicate that more than 4 million immigrants will be eligible for the temporary deportation relief outlined by the President.  While not all of those eligible are expected to apply, many will, and that will allow the Administration to focus its limited enforcement resources on the highest priorities for removal – those who pose security risks or recent arrivals without longstanding ties to our country. That is more than enough work for our border security and immigration enforcement officials to handle – even at the record deportation levels we have seen in recent years.

“So, in sum, based on what we know so far, I have come to the conclusion that the initiatives whose implementation we’re examining today are feasible, are fair, make good economic sense, and actually enhance our nation’s security. Whether you agree with that or not, these initiatives are interim steps.  They are not final steps.  Those are the ones we need to take by doing the hard work of rebuilding the consensus that allowed two-thirds of the Senate to support compromise immigration reform legislation some two years ago. 

“As I close, let me thank the Chairman for calling this hearing.  While there is considerable disagreement about what the President has done, I hope we can all agree that this hearing is the proper forum to have a debate on immigration policy. 

“I do not believe we should be threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security – an agency vital to our nation’s security – over disagreements with the President’s policies.  All three former Homeland Security secretaries – two of them Republicans, one of them a Democrat – agree with me on that point.

“In the next several days, I hope that most of us can come together to do what I believe is the right thing – support the passage of a clean, full-year appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security by February 27th and then get to work to pass a thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform bill that is worthy of this body in which all of us are privileged to serve.”