Things That Matter

Experts Are Warning The U.S. Supreme Court About The Economic Impacts Of Rescinding DACA Protections

In June, it was announced that the fates of almost 1 million people brought to the country illegally as children, known as DREAMers, would now be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. The case will be brought up as an appeal to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program back in Fall 2017. The hearing is set to happen before the high court’s next term and will decide the legality of the Obama-era program. The argument focuses on if-then President Barack Obama acted legally in enacting the program. If so, the Trump administration could revoke the program as long as it shows good reasoning to do so. 

DACA provided temporary legal status for participants and protected them from deportation. This included the ability to work in the U.S. It also became a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall back in February and his plans to take on illegal immigration. A ruling is expected in the 2020 election year, putting the highest court in the land at the center of this divisive issue. 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries are waiting on the Supreme Court decision on the program that could protect them or hurt them.

Credit: Unsplash

There will certainly come disappointment and growing fears from those who were protected under DACA if the Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration. Experts are pointing to the likelihood that the removal of the program could cause harm to the U.S. economy as a whole. The removal of DACA would include the loss of thousands of U.S. jobs and taxes that would force more people into illegal hiring practice.  

“Getting rid of DACA will reduce economic growth and cost our federal, state, and local governments about $95 billion in foregone tax revenues, without any appreciable employment gains for U.S. citizens,” Ike Branon writes in an op-ed for Forbes.

When it comes to education, DACA recipients, who must have graduated from high school to qualify for the program, are on par with their U.S. citizen counterparts. This comes despite facing multiple roadblocks when it comes to receiving student aid or certain loans to pursue a college degree. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 55 percent of DACA recipients were employed back in 2017. This translates to 382,000 workers paying taxes and strengthening the U.S. economy.

With so limited financial aid options for school, many DACA recipients must take on one to two jobs to help support themselves through their college years. Branon writes that “the labor force participation rates of DACA recipients is above that of the general population,” signaling to contrary belief that true makeup of this group. 

If a court decision sides with the Trump administration there is a strong possibility of mass deportations of more than one million young adults residing in the U.S. under DACA protection.

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The Supreme Court’s decision has a lot at stake that will affect more than just DACA recipients. There is the probability that many of those young adults under protection would lose their jobs due to their legal status. This would also certainly have a significant negative impact on the U.S. economy and cause some concern in the overall job marketplace. 

A large portion of DACA recipients are “well-educated workers” that have some obtained a college degree. Almost half a million of those degrees would be rendered useless due to the changed legal status of those recipients if the program is rescinded. It would be difficult to simply fill those high-skilled jobs and do so without disrupting the overall U.S. economy. 

There is the potential loss of billions of economic and tax dollars that would be lost without having those protected under DACA part of the U.S economy. While the number is still uncertain, estimated figures see the economic impact from rescinding DACA of roughly $200 billion in the next 10 years. The loss of tax revenue would be close to $60 billion. 

There is enough evidence to support having permanent protections for DACA recipients.

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Whether it’s jobs or more educated people in the U.S., there is no doubt that applying permanent DACA protections would create more prosperity. The statistics show creating a pathway for legal citizenship is beneficial for all and will only cause more harm than good is rescinded. 

So what are the odds that the Supreme Court sides with DACA? 

The court currently has a conservative majority of 5-4 but many believe that vote will come down to conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who has leaned liberal in recent years. We will have to wait until the court’s next term to find out the fate of one of the most politically charged issues of our time.

READ: DACA Recipients Will Finally Be Heard At The US Supreme Court In A Case That Could Decide Their Future

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

Things That Matter

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

ImmigrantFood / Instagram

Sometimes we read a news story that just makes us exclaim: “Wow, these people are seriously shading like a boss! Damn!”

Humor and directness are great assets when it comes to political activism. When it comes to confronting anti-immigration views with elegance and wisdom, one of the best strategies is actually showcasing the richness of multiculturalism and the vast benefits to local culture that diversity brings. 

Introducing Immigrant Food, a literal melting pot of deliciousness from all around the globe

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

The restaurant, located at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, D.C.,  brings fusion cuisine to a new level, in unexpected ways that defy culinary conventions. For example, pickled platanitos on a Vietnamese noodle salad. One of the staples of Latino food, the humble banana is given a German treatment and thrown into a Southeast Asian dish. The restaurant’s mantra is simple: “We celebrate America’s story — the story of immigrants”. Amen! Take that, bullies! 

Chef Enrique Limardo and political activist Peter Schechter have taken adventurous paths and basically mixes dishes that have nothing to do with each other…until now.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

Diversity is at the core of the new restaurant, which seems to be a sort of cachetada con guante blanco to those who refuse to admit that any healthy democracy needs cultural diversity. As Forbes reports: “Immigrant Food is the brainchild of political activist Peter Schechter who refers to this dining concept as more “cause casual” than fast-casual”.

So yes, it is food with a cause… and the cause is reminding us that diversity is at the core of any democratic society. Schechter told Forbes: “Rather than having a great business that then gives a portion of the profits as an afterthought to a cause, our cause is baked into our business model. We wouldn’t function without the cause.” As reported by CNN, Schechter is no spring chicken in political spheres, being described as “a seasoned political consultant and veteran of Washington’s think tank scene”. 

Just look at this symphony of colors and flavors: Ethiopia meets El Salvador!

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

At first sight the food from African and Central American countries have very little to do with each other, but if you think about it there is more in common that one might think. Ethiopian food is a delicious mix of grains, beans and sauces, and Salvadorian cuisine shares many of these core ingredients. Ethiopians and Salvadorians are two of the most vivid and active migrant groups in recent years. BTW, this is the Columbia Bowl and it looks just delish.

As chef Limardo told CNN in regards to how this dish came into existence: “I came up with the idea that we can use the berbere spice that is very common in Ethiopian food, and then in Salvadoran (food) they make a dressing that is made from pepita seeds. And the combination of both, it’s something that is unbelievable. Starting from that point, I just think that everything can be matched, if you’re using the right amount, and if you go back in history, and try to find the right spot to connect” . And it is right spot to connect that we all have to strive for, not only in food but also in life in multicultural societies.

The menu will change constantly and feature fusion dishes based on the traditions of 40 countries.

The menus will be supported by NGOs such as the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Ayuda, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, CARECEN and CASA. The menus will reflect the needs of the associated NGOs and basically speak to the causes of the time through culinary expression. In off-hours the restaurant is used as a space for these organizations to organize events such as meetings and English classes. Clients are also invited to make a donation when they pay the bill, and the sum is divided among the partner organizations. 

Seriously, can we please eat some of these platillos espectaculares.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

We really hope that this restaurant remains open for a long, long time, and that others are inspired by the operation and message of what could very well become a Washington D.C. icon. After all, immigrants are deeply attached to the food and hospitality industries in the United States.

It is immigrants who sudan la gota gorda harvesting the fields, it is immigrants who bring their dishes and mix them with ingredients from other parts of the world (other than Native American dishes, no food is totally endemic to the country), it is immigrants who work in the kitchens as cooks, and it is increasingly immigrants such as top Mexican chef Enrique Olvera who are dictating the pace and trends in the industry. Immigrant Food is sort of stating the wonderful obvious: immigrants enrich any society through hard work and creativity.

As Schechter, the mastermind behind Immigrant Food and who is himself a product of Austrian and German migration told CNN: “This isn’t the America I recognize… Somehow it has become normal to disparage, to feel you can talk down to immigrants, like immigrants are not good for this country. Immigrants have been the foundation of growth and vibrancy. This country has been great again and again and again because of immigrants”. Preach! 

The Trump Administration Is Proposing Raising Application Costs For DACA Recipients And Charging For Asylum Applications

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The Trump Administration Is Proposing Raising Application Costs For DACA Recipients And Charging For Asylum Applications

U.S. National Archives / Flickr

There is tough news out of Washington this week that could make chasing the American Dream cost a lot more. According to a report published on Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing raising a range of fees for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship, as well as an increase in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal fees. There would also a proposed charge for asylum applications, which would charge $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. As of now, only Fiji, Australia and Iran currently do this for asylum applications. 

The price hikes would make the cost of citizenship applications go up by 83 percent, from $640 to $1,170. This would primarily affect roughly 9 million immigrants that are eligible to become U.S. citizens. DACA fees would also see a substantial rise as they would increase from $495 to $765. News of this fee hike comes in the same week that the Supreme Court heard arguments on the validity of President Trump’s justification to terminate DACA.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.” The last time this such fee schedule was adjusted was at the end of 2016.

Credit: The Washington Post

The reasoning for the proposed price hikes and new fees is to help cover new expenses at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, said that this will help the agency cover new costs in the last few years due to an increase in citizenship applications. 

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimize subsidies from an already over-extended system,” Cuccinelli said in a press release. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”    

As of now, the agency will have a period of 30 days to receive public opinion, as established by law. The plan then is expected to go into effect Dec. 2, while the comment period will remain open until Dec. 16. 

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

After the comment period ends next month, USCIS is then obligated by law to consider comments on the proposal before any of the new fees can put forward. This time period is key for millions of immigrants that are eligible to naturalize and become U.S. citizens before such fees rise. Immigration advocacy groups are calling forward to those groups as they may have only a few weeks before these price hikes go into effect. 

“If you were lacking motivation before, it’s now even more important because this outrageous rule aims to price out low-income and working-class immigrants from U.S. citizenship and so many other immigration benefits,” Diego Iñiguez-López, NPNA’s policy and campaigns manager, said in a statement to NBC News. 

These proposed price hikes come at a time when the overall percentage of lawful immigrants living in the country that are willfully applying for and gaining citizenship has reached its highest level in more than 20 years. That can’t be said for Mexican Americans who fall behind other groups when it comes to naturalization rates. This is also despite being the biggest group of lawful immigrants in terms of country of origin. 

“This is one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable,” Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration, told Buzzfeed News.

Advocacy groups call the price hikes an attempt to further hurt those with already limited resources.  

Credit: @ken_crichlow / Twitter

Boundless, an immigration services firm, called the proposed price hike another blow to immigrants trying to come into the U.S. The firm says that increased fees target the poor and those in vulnerable positions by pricing them out of citizenship.

“Once again, this administration is attempting to use every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration and even U.S. citizenship,” said Doug Rand, the group’s co-founder, told the Washington Post .“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”

READ: Mexico Has Made It Illegal To Buy And Sell Moss: What Will Your Tías Use For Their Nacimientos Now?