Funding Trump’s Deportation Machine Is Bad News for American Families and Cities Across the Country

By Carlos Guevara, Senior Policy Advisor, UnidosUS

A year has passed since Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States on a platform focused on demonizing immigrants. And since he took office, his administration has sought to aggressively and indiscriminately crack down on all aspects of immigration.

This administration has not only gone after long-residing undocumented immigrants who are living peacefully and contributing to their communities while waiting for a chance to legalize their status, but it is now taking the unprecedented step of going after others who have legal status and are fully vetted. This has resulted in significant costs for many longtime residents, their families, and local economies.

Increased interior enforcement for its own sake, without a clear and meaningful articulation of priorities, leads to significant direct and collateral damage. This includes destabilizing families, jeopardizing the health and education of U.S.-citizen children, and harming both the national and local economies. And the damage will be long-lasting, as evidenced by the economic and psychological impact on children who may be forced to live apart from parents and siblings. It is estimated that more than 5.1 million U.S.-citizen children have at least one parent who is unauthorized to live and work in the United States.

MILLIONS OF LIVES DISRUPTED BY THE DEPORTATION MACHINE

The crackdown has recently taken an insidious turn, as a group of about 1.1 million immigrants lawfully residing in the country are at risk of losing key protections. In September, the Trump administration announced the end of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program that has shielded nearly 800,000 young people who came to the United States as children from deportation and provided them with work permits.

In addition, in the months ahead, Trump officials will be deciding the fates of more than 300,000 long-time members of our communities currently registered under a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The possibility of ending protections of more than 1.1 million lawfully present and work-authorized people is unprecedented in our country’s history.

Millions of American families and communities across the country will bear the brunt of this new line of attack in Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. Among Latinos alone, while nearly eight in 10 are U.S. citizens, almost six in 10 Latino voters know someone who is undocumented. An estimated 273,200 U.S.-born Latino children have a parent with TPS, and more than 75% of DACA recipients live with a U.S.-citizen spouse, child, or sibling.

IMMIGRANTS ARE HELPING OUR CITIES REBOUND AND THRIVE

Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda will also have profound impacts on cities and communities across the country, including many with small- or medium-sized immigrant populations. Consider Baltimore City: since 2000, Baltimore’s immigrant population increased by 20,000, to more than 45,000, with the largest growth coming from people with Mexican and Salvadoran backgrounds. Today, immigrants represent more than 7.3% of the city’s population, which contains a number of DACA and TPS recipients, such as the estimated 10,000 and 22,500, respectively, who live in Maryland.

Local governments have significant interest in supporting policies that foster an environment where immigrants can thrive, and one of those areas of interest is housing. It is estimated that collectively, immigrants add $3.7 trillion to U.S. housing wealth, adding, on average, 11.5 cents to the value of the average home in their local county.

Moreover, immigrants contribute to stabilizing neighborhoods, which help those areas become viable housing alternatives for middle- and working-class Americans. The research shows that for every 1,000 immigrants settling in a county, 250 U.S.-born people follow, drawn by increased economic opportunity.

In 2011, former Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made attracting immigrants to Baltimore central to her goal of increasing the city’s population by 10,000 families over the course of a decade. Even though the Trump administration has crusaded against so-called sanctuary cities, current Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, has been clear that her city is a “welcoming city.”

For cities like Baltimore, these proposals and proclamations are not mere platitudes. In the last 50 years, Baltimore has experienced significant population decreases, leading to a shrinking tax base and overall revenues needed to meet core city functions like education and law enforcement. Over the past two decades, immigrants have helped stabilize and reinvigorate Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods previously in decline.

The Trump anti-immigrant agenda threatens to zap many key gains. In 2011, Baltimore’s foreign-born workers earned approximately $1 billion in wages, and held more than 27,000 jobs. They owned more than 7,500 homes in the city, and rented another 11,700. According to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, from 2000 to 2010, the value added by immigration to the price of the average home was $3,285 in Baltimore County and $1,616 in Baltimore City.

Sources: Immigration Figures: Americas Society/Council of the Americas | Median Home Value: Zillow.com

HOUSING MARKETS COULD BE DESTABILIZED

The threat to the 1.1 million currently lawfully present DACA and TPS holders, who largely work in the formal economy, also stands to have a profound impact on housing markets. A recent survey of DACA recipients shows that 16% of respondents purchased their first home after receiving DACA, and among respondents 25 years and older, this percentage rises to 24%. For their part, a study of TPS holders finds that 30%, or 61,000 people, live in households with mortgages. Destabilizing protections for these groups, many of whom are breadwinners, does not bode well for the financial health of many of these households.

Credit: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Because the Trump administration’s aggressive anti-immigrant agenda undermines many of these efforts at the local level, it is no surprise that many localities have enacted policies that would limit local law enforcement’s entanglement with federal immigration authorities. Indeed, at a time when federal immigration authorities have rejected commonsense immigration enforcement priorities that advance community well-being and national security, it’s almost a predictable outcome.

See also: These Are the Lives Disrupted by the Deportation Machine

There is a lot at stake, as Congress must pass legislation to fund the government beyond December. At a time when Republican lawmakers have passed a sweetheart tax deal to the ultra-wealthy, and plan to make drastic cuts to critical domestic programs like Medicare, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the president’s request for unprecedented levels of funding for immigration enforcement boggles the mind and would amount to a slap in the face to millions of American families. Congress must stop the frenzy, and deny funds for unnecessary new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and detention facilities — the boots and beds of a mass deportation strategy that makes no one safer.

Find the latest on the fight for a DREAM Act Now on the UnidosUS blog.

The largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, UnidosUS works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.