President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw Obama-era legal protections for more than 800,000 immigrants who arrived in the United States as children of undocumented parents. Many recipients of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, have lived in America for decades, building families, careers, and businesses. Trump’s action has prompted scores of influential business leaders to speak out about the negative economic impacts. Tracy Jan for The Washington Post’s Wonkblog reports that they want Congress to take action:
Business leaders and some economists pushed back on the idea that ending DACA would help American workers. Many American jobs depend on the work that Dreamers are doing, said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
“If you take those DACA recipients away, you will end up with lower wages and fewer jobs for Americans, not more jobs,” Bier said. “Having more people contributing to the economy is the thing that ultimately allows for greater employment for more Americans.” Employers would bear the cost of ending DACA, which Bier estimates at $6.3 billion because of worker turnover.
It’s just inhumane and un-American,” Catholic Charities [of New Orleans] Division Director Martin Gutierrez said about the upcoming decision … [DACA] Applicants must undergo a background check and pay almost $500. DACA applicants pay taxes but cannot use social programs such as the Affordable Care Act or food stamps. Many applicants have lived in the U.S. for years. “Most of them don’t know any other country but this one. This is their country,” Gutierrez said. Trump could undo these protections over night. “It would go against the spirit of what this nation is all about,” Gutierrez said.
Two takes on TOPS
With a new legislatively-created TOPS task force set to meet for the first time this week, there is a lot of buzz about what ideas the group could and should consider as reforms to the scholarship program that has grown dramatically in cost since its creation in 1998. Lawmakers have made small cost-saving tweaks to TOPS in the past, but have dismissed larger proposals, fearing political backlash. Writing for The Advocate, Jeff Sadow said reforms should focus on directing aid to the highest-achieving students and those with the greatest need.
Changing TOPS into a genuine scholarship program while boosting needs-based assistance through needs-based awards called GO Grants can make both more effective. Raising the ACT requirement to 24, which encompasses the upper quarter of test takers nationally, rewards excellence, encourages greater effort in high school, and weeds out dilettantes while cutting TOPS’ cost almost in half. Then tripling current GO Grant funding and doubling its maximum allotment to $6,000 annually would save the state nearly $100 million a year while helping out more deserving students from less-wealthy backgrounds.
The Advocate’s Mark Ballard spoke with higher education officials in Louisiana, who are concerned the state’s ongoing budget travails might lead the Legislature to revert to the Jindal-era practice of replacing state support with tuition dollars:
From July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2017, state taxpayer support dropped $731 million, or about 53 percent. To cover the loss of that money, colleges and universities were allowed, under special conditions, to raise tuition and fees on students by 111 percent. This shifted the responsibility from taxpayers, who once shouldered 61 percent of the costs of running a university, to the students, who now pay about 72 percent. The thought was that the schools would get their state money via TOPS paying for tuition rather than directly from the state treasury. Here’s the rub. Only 24 percent of Louisiana college students received TOPS in 2016. That means the burden of covering the daily bills fell on students paying their own way, most of whom are from families making less than $100,000 a year.
House budget resolution is misguided
Passing a budget to fund the federal government for another year is one of the top items on Congress’ long list of things to get done this fall. The lower chamber took the first step in that process before leaving for August recess, when the House Budget Committee approved a budget resolution, along strict party lines. The proposal includes a vision for dramatically cutting non-defense federal spending over the next decade. In a new blog, LBP’s state policy fellow Carmen Green outlines the harmful impact the House budget resolution would have on Louisiana:
By 2027, non-defense discretionary spending as a share of the economy would be at its lowest point since before the Great Depression. With reduced federal funding for public services, the state would be left in the tenuous position of deciding whether to continue critical public programs including early childhood education centers, rental assistance, and domestic violence prevention efforts using already-limited state funds, or end those programs entirely. The House budget plan also calls for $4.4 trillion in cuts to economic security programs that help Louisiana families afford basic necessities such as food and health care. For example, the budget resolution proposes a $150 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which amounts to 20 percent of the program, over the next decade. More than 404,000 Louisiana households rely on food assistance to make ends meet, half of which are families with children.
The American dream in rural America
Residents of rural America are often an overlooked minority, with more than 85 percent of the nation’s population living in metropolitan areas. In a new report, Brookings’ researchers Eleanor Krause and Richard Reeves analyze the social and economic outcomes of those who grow up in rural areas. They found great variation in “upward mobility” among rural areas, with some small towns serving as springboards for children to be better off than their parents, while others were “mobility traps.” Economic success, Krause and Reeves found, depends on rural families’ access to social and educational resources:
Country boys and girls from modest backgrounds can go on to succeed every bit as much as their city cousins. We find that growing up in a stable family, attending a good school, and getting some work experience are all more likely for those in the counties showing the higher upward mobility rates. Few surprises here, of course. We do not propose to set out a comprehensive policy agenda here. And the needs of different places will vary, suggesting the need for a tailored approach. But there are likely to be three key elements of a pro-mobility agenda for rural counties: good schools, broadband access, and access to family planning. These are three “preparedness” approaches – building skills, access, and family stability.
Number of the Day
$91 million- Estimated annual loss in Gross State Product that would result from removing DACA workers from Louisiana (Source: Center for American Progress)