Texas business community has the right perspective on DreamersHouston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce • Aug 03, 2018
Texas business community has the right perspective on Dreamers
There are about 800,000 Dreamers in the United States, almost half of whom live in California or Texas. Ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would, therefore, have an outsized impact on those two states.
Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, evidently isn’t bothered by that. He wants Donald Trump to end the program, which was created via executive order by Barack Obama in 2012. And Paxton is trying to force Trump’s hand. In May, he filed suit over the issue, leading a seven-state coalition.
Some Texans applauded Paxton’s decision. Most didn’t.
I would like to commend the coalition of business groups and companies that filed an amicus brief against the state this week, noting that ending the initiative would cause “irreparable harm” to the businesses they represent, and explaining why doing so would cost the entire state dearly.
From a business perspective, the case the brief makes is clear. There are roughly 126,000 Dreamers in Texas, and all of them support the economy in various ways. Some may have applied for DACA specifically to be able to participate in the economy more productively; the program’s enrollees receive work authorizations in addition to deportation relief. And even Dreamers who still are full-time students are consumers and taxpayers. All in all, Texas would lose an estimated $6 billion in annual economic activity, if DACA is ended, the brief states.
Similarly, there’s little disagreement that all Texans benefit from the contributions Dreamers make. Roughly 2000 public school teachers, for example, are DACA recipients, and many are bilingual. If Paxton has his way, we’ll lose that talent.
Houston Methodist Hospital employs 57 Dreamers in various positions. Its president, Dr. Marc Bloom, has described such immigrants as “essential” to the nation’s health care workforce.
I would add that I recently visited a friend who was cooped up in the hospital’s Alkek building, on the orders of Methodist’s cardiologists. Afterward, I spent almost an hour trying to figure out where my car was. Eventually, I started wondering whether the parking garage I had put it in actually exists, outside of my own imagination. It is reassuring to know that the Texas Medical Center is full of health care professionals, many of whom have years of experience navigating the federal bureaucracy, which is even more labyrinthine than the compound in which they work.
Immigration, obviously, is an issue that affects Texas businesses, in a variety of ways. The coalition behind the business groups’ amicus brief includes Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, IBC Bank, and Marek Brothers Construction, in addition to the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Border Coalition, and a number of other chambers of commerce.
Texas’s Republican leaders haven’t even bothered to pay lip service to the business community’s perspective lately. Paxton, in May, decreed it irrelevant.
“Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy,” the attorney general said in a press release then. “Texas has argued for years that the federal executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization.”
Press releases are not a particularly respectful way for a statewide elected official to communicate with the people of Texas, or a respectable one, in my opinion. Then again, if Paxton cared about public opinion, would not have filed this lawsuit in the first place.
It remains to be seen whether the business groups’ brief will make a difference. In fact, there is reason to think it will not. The federal judge scheduled to hear the case, Andrew Hanen, is a conservative, nominated by George W. Bush, who has opposed Obama’s executive overreach on immigration. In 2015, he granted a preliminary injunction on another immigration-related program Obama came up within 2014, which he also sought to create via a second executive order.
Hanen was in a position to grant that injunction because Texas led the coalition of states seeking an injunction against the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, DAPA for short.
In fact, Texas was not among the states that sought an injunction over DACA, for some reason. And the states that did seek an injunction against DACA were not granted one.
Although I’m inclined to agree that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority when he created the program itself, I think the business community’s perspective on this is the right one. A preliminary injunction granted six years after the fact wouldn’t settle the question of whether Obama’s executive action was overreach. It would just cause Texas harm.As published by the Houston Chronicle https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/grieder/article/Texas-business-community-has-the-right-13112089.php