Trump and DACA– really mean and really stupid

Okay, the fact that your are potentially dramatically negatively impacting the lives of people who did not make the decision to come here is obviously, just plain mean.  It’s also really stupid.  Young workers– especially those who are basically American, i.e., have been educated here and know the language as natives– are a huge boon to the economy.

Krugman is on top of that:

But it’s also worth noting that Jeff Sessions just tried to sell it with junk economics, claiming that the Dreamers are taking American jobs. No, they aren’t, even if we leave aside the question of who’s an American. DACA is very much a boon to the rest of the U.S. population, and killing it will make everyone worse off.

To see why, first note that whatever you think about the economics of less-educated immigrants — most of the evidence suggests that they don’t depress wages, but that’s another discussion — none of it applies to DREAMers. Their educational and behavioral profile, as Cato notes, doesn’t resemble the average immigrant, let alone the average undocumented immigrant; they look like H-1B visa holders, that is, skilled immigrants we have specifically allowed in because they help the economy.

Beyond that, DREAMers are young — which means that they help the economy in not one but two big ways, because they mitigate the economic problems caused by an aging population.

One of those problems is fiscal: as the population ages, there are fewer working-age members contributing taxes to pay for Social Security and Medicare. A cohort of relatively high-wage, highly motivated people mostly in their 20s, likely to pay lots of taxes for decades, is exactly what the doctor ordered to make that issue less severe.

And, from a nice cartoon guide from Alvin Chang:

That is not about taking jobs from Americans.  That is a huge boon to the American economy, and thus all of us.

And more Vox on how Jeff Sessions lied to sell this.

DREAMers took jobs from “hundreds of thousands of Americans”

“It denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

This is almost certainly false. The economic evidence is very clear that immigration is a huge boon for Americans as a whole. In part that’s because of complementarity: Immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans; they let Americans take higher-skill jobs (ones requiring English language fluency, for instance) and complement their labor. America’s past experience confirms this. When the US ended a guest worker program that let Mexican laborers work on US farms in the early 1960s, wages for US farm workers didn’t rise at all, nor did more Americans get jobs. Companies simply bought more machines to make up for the lost workers.

And, an excellent piece from Chait on how the politics are oddly similar to that of ACA repeal:

There is an eerie familiarity to President Trump’s position on deporting immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. It contains the same mix of cruelty and desperate incompetence as his position on repealing Obamacare. There is the alternating of threats and bluster with sweet promises; the repeated delays in hopes a solution will somehow materialize; the lack of interest in programmatic detail (“administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind,” reports the New York Times); and the final lurch into blame-avoidance that we are seeing now (“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!,” Trump demands, bluntly framing the policy as something Congress, not Trump, was supposed to have been working on these past seven and a half months.

On immigration, as on health care and other issues, anti-Obamaism has been the glue holding together the Republican coalition. Barack Obama cobbled together ungainly policy compromises as a way of working around the implacability of the Republican Party. Obama’s departure from the scene has dissolved the glue that held the Republican stance together, leaving Trump and his party flailing about for an alternative that is neither heretical to their own ideology nor overtly cruel…

Trump was reprising his method on health care, right down to the terms themselves (“heart”; “take care of everybody.”) Of course, this presumed there was a way to take care of everybody while still satisfying the bloodlust of the conservative base. Some Republicans have floated the possibility of trading a solution for the Dreamers for a down payment on construction of Trump’s cherished border wall. Democrats and arch restrictionists alike oppose that deal…

Access to power is exposing the hollowness of the Republican platform. The chronically leaky administration has fatally undercut any pretense of coherence in the president’s announcement. Trump made his announcement because he wants “a way out,” reports the Times. If Congress fails to act, a scenario that seems likely, a senior aide told Politico, “he didn’t expect Trump to follow through on terminating DACA.” If there is any saving grace to the situation, it is that, contra Yeats, the worst lack all conviction.

And Greg Sargent:

In the other tweet, Trump asserted that Congress has six months to act to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals “dreamers” via legislation and hinted that if Congress fails, he might renew the executive protections he just rescinded. But Trump has not told us what legislation along these lines he’d be willing to sign. There’s a reason for all this vagueness: Trump cannot come out squarely for protecting the dreamers, because that would reveal another side of his alleged economic populism — the demagoguing about immigrants threatening U.S. workers — to be hollow…

But let’s be clear on what this conflict is really about. Trump isn’t wrestling with a dilemma made difficult by two valid competing moral imperatives. He’s torn between (on one side) the reality of what it actually means to scrap protections for hundreds of thousands of people who know no other country, are thoroughly American and just want to contribute positively to American life; and (on the other) the need to continue propping up his campaign lies about how deporting these people will boost American workers. The conflict is between the inescapably awful truth about the real-life consequences of ending DACA and the imagined need to continue making empty gestures to his core supporters. [bold is mine; italics is Sargent]

I’d like to be somewhat optimistic that we end up with something where we don’t end up deporting hundreds of thousands of productive Americans (and that’s what they are), but for all those people and their family, facing this kind of threat and uncertainty is already an unseemly punishment.  Without a doubt, this policy checks off both boxes for evil and stupid.

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