Young Immigrants Pay $55 Million More in NY Taxes as a Result of DACA

July 5, 2017. In the midst of a flurry of restrictive actions against various categories of immigrants, the Trump administration announced last month that it would continue, at least for now, the policy that protects some undocumented immigrants from deportation if they arrived in the United States as children. The policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows immigrant youth who register and are accepted to get permission to work, a driver’s license and temporary relief from deportation. At the same time, the Trump Administration announced the cancellation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), that would have protected the immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.[1]

Even these young immigrants can hardly breathe easy in the current political environment. Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric about DACA youth during the campaign and presidency has been contradictory and confusing at best. During the campaign, Trump stated that he was going to rescind this program, but during the beginning of his presidency he contradicted his statements and announced that immigrant youth with DACA are not a target for deportation by the Department of Homeland Security. Still, a sigh of relief is certainly justified. While the ultimate fate of DACA is still uncertain, at least for now the program continues.

Nationally, 887,000 have already been granted DACA, including 76,000 in New York State.[2]

While the biggest benefit of retaining DACA is of course to immigrant youth, the communities they live in will also see concrete gains. When immigrants have legal permission to work they can find a better job match, which allows employers to make more productive use of their skills. DACA also ensures a higher level of tax compliance: While all undocumented immigrants pay sales tax and contribute to property taxes, and about half file income tax returns, with DACA all recipients file income tax returns.

As a result of higher earnings and higher levels of tax compliance, DACA means increased state and local tax revenues. DACA recipients currently pay a total of $1.6 billion dollars to local and state taxes around the country, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy[3] If the program is eliminated, the U.S. would lose $797 million in local and state taxes.

In New York State, those currently receiving DACA contribute $140 million to state and local taxes and if DACA was terminated, New York State would lose $55 million.

DACA is not just about the money, of course. Many of these youth see the United States as their only home, and often have no recollection of any other country. They have grown up in the U.S. school system, and they may have been our longtime friends and classmates. These are young people who are just trying to do the right thing. It is a welcome bit of good news that the Trump Administration will allow DACA to continue, at least for now.

By: Cyierra Roldan


[1] In 2014, President Obama issued an executive order that would have expanded eligibility for DACA, and also would have created DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. The DACA expansion and DAPA were held up in courts throughout the Obama Administration. With the announcement that the Trump Administration will leave the original 2012 version of DACA in place for now, the administration also announced the cancellation of the executive order on DACA expansion and DAPA.

[2] Migration Policy Institute data tool, DACA Eligible Population by State and County, 2016.

[3] Misha E. Hill and Meg Wiehe, “State & Local Tax Contributions of Young Undocumented Immigrants,” (District  of Columbia: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2017).