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News Jan. 18, 2018

Construction industry would be among most affected if DACA expires

The restaurant and construction industries would be affected most by the expiration of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides protected status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, according to DACA covers about 700,000 immigrants, although roughly twice that number are estimated to be eligible for the program.

Advocacy group New American Economy reports nearly 19 percent of working DACA recipients hold jobs in food service, and the construction sector employs another 10 percent; the two industries account for about 240,000 people.

Other industries with significant numbers of immigrants eligible for DACA are health care, landscaping and academia, which each employ about 2 percent of workers.

"DACA makes business sense because it brings young, well-educated talent out of the shadows and into the mainstream workforce," says Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy.

Several companies have offered legal assistance to employees attempting to navigate the uncertainty regarding DACA. The Trump administration began winding down DACA in October 2017, and the program is slated to expire March 5. However, a California court issued an injunction last week halting that process.

Although Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Jan. 16 that her department is complying with that order, the Justice Department has since announced it will appeal the injunction directly to the Supreme Court.

"It defies both law and common sense for DACA—an entirely discretionary non-enforcement policy that was implemented unilaterally by the last administration after Congress rejected similar legislative proposals and courts invalidated the similar DAPA policy—to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

New American Economy estimates that more than 70 percent of the 25 largest companies in the U.S. employ DACA recipients, and DACA recipients contribute about $3 billion in tax revenue. Last week, industry groups representing chain restaurants, retail stores and construction companies joined an open letter signed by more than 100 CEOs warning of an "impending crisis" if lawmakers do not act soon.

During a public conversation with a DACA recipient Jan. 16, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said a compromise was unlikely by Friday but would be reached before the deadline.

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