Repealing DACA is pretty costly for the hometowns of the most anti-immigrant politicians

Some of the heavyweights leading the cause to end DACA will see their states lose a lot of money.

Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA) demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA) demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has taken credit for the strong stock market, lowered job unemployment rate, and a “secure” border. But just as soon as he would like to claim that he’s investing in a stronger America, it would also appear that his White House’s discontinuation of his predecessor’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration executive action, which has been an economic lifeline for 800,000 people, could lead to devastating economic costs.

Dismantling the program could lead to serious gross domestic product (GDP) losses in congressional districts nationwide, according to the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration and Center for American Progress (CAP) calculations. (Editor’s note: ThinkProgress is an editorially-independent news site housed within CAP). A July 2017 CAP report already shows that taking away all DACA recipients, or an estimated 685,000 workers from the economy would lead to a $460.3 billion drop in GDP over the next ten years.

Some of the heavyweights leading the cause to end DACA and enforce hardline immigration policies include a host of influential lawmakers, including the president and his advisers. But their hometowns too will be seriously impacted by the crackdowns. Here are some of the most vocal anti-immigration lawmakers, whose home districts will find inaction on immigration reform very costly:

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

When Sessions was senator, he accused then-President Barack Obama of executive overreach for enacting DACA. But as the CAP data shows, his home state of Alabama would lose $188 million in GDP annually from removing DACA workers. Sessions’ birth town of Selma, Alabama, which lies in the 7th congressional district, would see a drop of $21.8 million once it takes away DACA from the 500 current recipients and 700 DACA-eligible people. Overall, roughly 4,803 people are current DACA holders in the state of Alabama, the American Immigration Council reported, while another 4,000 residents could have aged into DACA had they been given the chance to proceed with the program.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Rep. King has long led the charge to dismantle the DACA program, including introducing House bills to end the program during the Obama years. Earlier this year, King tweeted a controversial photo of him holding a beer out for federal immigration agents after they deported a DACA recipient. If DACA ends without a solution, the 4th district which he represents stands to lose $53.8 million once it strips away DACA from the district’s 800 DACA recipients, according to the report’s data.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

If ever there was someone to pinpoint as the person who pushed the wrecking ball rolling to end DACA, it could be Paxton. In June, Paxton and state officials from nine other states issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration and the U.S. Department of Justice to end DACA or risk a legal challenge in front of a federal judge. Paxton became attorney general of Texas in January 2015, a state that stands to lose $6.738 billion annually if DACA is revoked without a permanent solution in place. Paxton, a resident of McKinney which is in Rep. Sam Johnson’s (R-TX) district, would see that area lose $84.1 million annually if DACA is taken away from its 1,600 DACA recipients and 3,800 DACA-eligible immigrants.

President Donald Trump

The president has said he has a big heart for DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. Yet his plan to take away DACA without leaving a more permanent solution in place could result in major ramifications for the economy. As president of the United States, his nationwide effort to end DACA will result in an estimated loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade. Trump, whose former primary residence in New York City’s Trump Tower in the state’s 12th congressional district, would also stand to lose $71 million annually if the district loses its 1,100 DACA recipients and 2,600 DACA-eligible individuals.

Kim Guadagno, New Jersey’s Republican gubernatorial candidate

By many measures, candidates for office should be held to the same standards as lawmakers in office because their policy proposals, if passed into law, could have significant impact on their state’s residents. Guadagno, New Jersey’s current lieutenant governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate, has said that Trump’s decision to end DACA has cleared the way for Congress to find a permanent solution. Yet DACA recipients may be left in the dark since there is currently no permanent fix in sight, especially now that the White House has released a list of harsh immigration demands unlikely to get Democratic support.


Most recently, Guadagno’s campaign released a racist attack ad against her Democratic opponent Phil Murphy over so-called “sanctuary cities” where local law enforcement officials can choose not to detain suspected undocumented immigrants for potential deportation proceedings on behalf of federal immigration agents. The ad pits Murphy’s decision to make New Jersey into a welcoming state for immigrants against a horrific example of a criminal immigrant who raped and killed Americans. Based on her alignment with her party’s immigration position, that would mean her state stands to lose $1.6 billion as the population of 22,000 DACA recipients lose their status over the course of the next two and a half years, the timeline for which the Trump administration has said it would phase out the program.

Guadagno’s position on DACA could also affect her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa, which is located in the state’s 1st congressional district represented by Rep. Rod Blum (R). That district stands to lose $49.7 million annually if all 700 DACA recipients and 900 DACA-eligible immigrants have their DACA phased out without a solution.

Ed Gillespie, Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate

In September, Gillespie released an attack ad against Democratic opponent Ralph Northam, warning Virginia residents of MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, a criminal street gang that has roots in California before the U.S. government deported members to Central America where they now spread violence and kill people. Like Guadagno, Gillespie has criticized DACA by turning to Congress to find a “legislative solution.” By allowing DACA to end and making life difficult for immigrants, Gillespie’s state of Virginia stands to lose $739 million annually if its 12,134 DACA recipients are no longer able to continue contributing to the state.

Gillespie’s position on DACA also doesn’t bode well for his hometown of Mount Holly, New Jersey in the state’s 3rd congressional district. Roughly 600 DACA recipients and 1,100 DACA-eligible recipients would no longer be able to contribute $42.5 million annually if the dissolution of DACA fails to lead a congressional fix.