Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Wednesday September 9th, 2015, 6:04pm

Federal Deferred Action Programs Could Boost IL Economy By $14 Billion Over Decade

As President Barack Obama's immigration orders remain on hold while the issue works its way through the courts, a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows that the pending immigration directives could help grow Illinois' economy by an estimated $14 billion over 10 years.

Signed in November, Obama's executive orders on immigration seek to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative and create a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program.

The two new immigration programs are being challenged in court by a group of 26 mostly Republican-run states. A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction as part of that case in February that blocked Obama's immigration directives from taking effect until the issue is resolved in court. The Obama administration, which was unsuccessful in getting an emergency stay of that February injunction, is currently appealing the Texas judge's decision.

As part of the DACA expansion plan, Obama's administrative relief would extend deferred action to additional undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children but were too old to qualify for the original DACA program, created in 2012. The current DACA program grants a two-year protection against deportation to immigrants who came to the United States as young children prior to June of 2007.

Under the pending DAPA program, qualified undocumented parents of children with U.S. legal status who have resided in the country since January 1, 2010 would be shielded from deportation for three years.

According to CAP, there are 5.2 million immigrants in the United States eligible for DACA, DAPA and DACA expansion.

CAP calculates that these three immigration initiatives would together grow the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by an estimated $230 billion over a decade. With all three deferred action programs in effect, Americans would see collective income gains of $124 billion over 10 years, and an average of 28,814 jobs would be created annually, according to CAP's projections.

"These much-needed economic boosts to the economy are consistent with earlier estimates of large tax increases from the immigration directives: The Social Security Administration, for example, projects that the November directives alone will add $41 billion in new tax revenue to the system over a decade," CAP's report reads. "Similarly, a recent CAP study estimates that the temporary work permits could potentially raise payroll tax revenues by $22.6 billion over five years."

The DACA and DAPA eligible population in Illinois is 262,000, according to CAP.

With the three deferred action programs, CAP estimates that Illinois would see a cumulative increase in its GDP of $14 billion over 10 years. Income among Illinois residents would also collectively grow by more than $7.9 billion over a decade, and an average of 1,850 jobs would be created annually in Illinois, CAP's analysis showed.

The group's state-by-state economic impact analysis of DACA, DAPA and DACA expansion shows that California would see the largest state increase in GDP of $75.8 billion over 10 years. California has the biggest DACA and DAPA eligible population at over 1.5 million.

"Deferred action will produce significant and much-needed economic benefits for individual states," CAP policy analyst and report author Silva Mathema said in a statement. "Our states and localities will do better when their residents are given a chance to realize their full potential and contribute even more to the state's growth."

Meanwhile, the 26 states that filed a lawsuit back in December against Obama's immigration orders argue in part that the directives would burden state budgets.

But various studies on the potential economic impacts of Obama's immigration orders "cast doubt" on such claims, Mathema argues.

"The Texas lawsuit, as well as other legislative efforts to block DACA and DAPA, are fiscally and economically counterproductive," Mathema wrote in a report on the issue. "And yet even the ample economic benefits to the nation that would result from providing deferred action to certain undocumented immigrants pale in comparison to those that would come with comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship."

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