Many proponents of reform see a “brain drain” in deportations
Activists and some politicians who support the DREAM Act in Congress argue that a huge brain drain would result from sending as many as 2.1 million undocumented students educated in the United States back to their home countries.
The investment in these students also includes free school lunches, medical care and social services.
Most came to America as babies or in early childhood. Deporting them now would also deprive the country of billions of dollars in taxes those students would pay, especially if they are allowed to stay and get a college education and higher paying jobs, according to the American Immigration Council, a non-profit which conducts research on immigration and provides public policy advice to Congress.
Examples of the success of descendants of undocumented immigrants are plentiful. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and his twin brother, Julian Castro, the three-term San Antonio mayor just confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, are the grandsons of an undocumented Mexican immigrant who came to Texas as a child.
Both of the Castro twins are graduates of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
Julian Castro’s keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, referred to his grandmother, “She never made it past the fourth grade. She had to drop out and start working to help her family. My grandmother spent her whole life working as a maid, a cook and a babysitter, barely scraping by, but still working hard to give my mother, her only child, a chance in life, so that my mother could give my brother and me an even better one.”
One of the original sponsors of the DREAM Act, Sen. Richard Durbin (D- Ill.), has repeatedly said that continued congressional refusal to pass the act costs America money and intellectual capital.
“We can allow a generation of immigrant students with great potential and ambitions to contribute more fully to our society and national security, or we can relegate them to a future in the shadows, which would be a loss for all Americans,” Durbin argued in a failed effort to pass the DREAM Act as an amendment to the defense authorization bill.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the House version of the DREAM Act as introduced in December 2010, if passed, would have “reduced (federal) deficits by about $2.2 billion over the 2011-2020 period.”
In Florida, legalization of undocumented students would have allowed the state to add $1.13 billion in tax revenues and $2.8 billion in total wages, according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive research center in Washington D.C.
Ryan Campbell, co-founder of the DREAM Action Coalition, a national advocacy organization for immigration reform, said the entire country would benefit by allowing the estimated 11 million undocumented residents to work legally.
Children without documentation are entitled to the same K–12 education as U.S.-born citizens or residents.
Florida is home to about 1.86 million out of the estimated 11.1 million undocumented residents of the U.S. It ranks among the top five states in terms of undocumented population.
Deportation of all the undocumented immigrants in the state would cost Florida $5.6 billion in taxes and $15.45 billion in lost wages, said Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, director of the North American Integration and Development Center at the University of California Loa Angeles (UCLA).
That lost revenue in Florida would pay for the cost of an estimated 13 million Advanced Placement exams for high school students, increase the state’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program by allowing the addition of 350,000 to 450,0000 students or give 136 days of free and reduced lunch to every K-12 student, Hinojosa-Ojeda estimated.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 851, Florida’s new law allowing undocumented immigrants educated in public schools to attend state colleges and universities at lower in-state tuition rates, making Florida the 21st state to allow undocumented students to not pay out-of-state tuition, which is three times higher at most Florida schools.
However, many believe that comprehensive national policy change is needed to resolve America’s immigration crisis.
Miami Lakes immigration lawyer C. Carolina Maluje said in an interview, “There should be this mass immigration reform for the people who have been living here for 10, 20, 25 years, who have been paying taxes, bills, insurance, cars increasing our economy in doing so.”