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L.A.-Area DACA Recipients Contribute Approximately $5.5 Billion Annually To Economy, Chamber Estimates

From left: CHIRLA Executive Director Angelica Salas, DACA recipients Kathia and Luis, L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce EVP David Rattray, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman Jimmy Gomez. (Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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Research from both sides of the aisle has shown that the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could have enormous economic repercussions, and they will likely be felt strongest in Los Angeles—home to more DACA recipients than any other metropolitan area.

On Thursday morning, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce held a roundtable discussion with elected officials, business representatives, and DACA beneficiaries about the program's impact on the local economy. Joined by Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman Jimmy Gomez, immigrant advocates spoke of the need to pass the DREAM Act, and create a permanent legal solution for protecting the young immigrants left at risk by the DACA repeal.

David Rattray, Executive Vice President of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, said that by the Chamber's estimate, DACA recipients contribute an estimated $5.5 billion annually to the state gross domestic product (GDP). "The estimate by the Center for American Progress is that in California alone, $11 billion is being contributed to the gross state product by DACA recipients. We have about half of those DACA recipients here in Los Angeles County alone. So we estimate about $5.5 billion per year is being currently contributed [by DACA recipients]," he explained. California is home to more than a quarter of all DACA recipients.

Congressman Gomez said that the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce has been a strong advocate of the DACA program, and immigration reform. "They know that DACA recipients add to our city, not only culturally but economically. They know that if you take away that status, a lot of them will lose their jobs—and their families will be hurting and our economy will be hurting. We need to protect DACA recipients by passing the DREAM Act at the federal level," Gomez continued.

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"One of the things that immigrant youth heard today is that Los Angeles stands with them," CHIRLA Executive Director Angelica Salas said after the roundtable.

"This is a moment where we need clear thinking and clear action," Rattray said, speaking on behalf of the Chamber. "The issue is so clear. What's right is also what's smart. What's good for these young people is also what's good for our economy."

Rattray said that the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce would be "reaching out to chamber colleagues across the United States," and urging them to support DREAM Act legislation. "We'll be just asking them to look at the facts, and look at their own numbers," Rattray said.

"This is our future talent. And our employers get it. We need those young people to thrive, not just in today's economy but the next decades—and the decades to come. So you can take that $5.5 billion and amplify it times 10 or times 20, and you're seeing the future economy of Los Angeles, frankly, slip away if we don't get it right. And, frankly, thrive, if we embrace these young people and give them pathways to contribute."

Related: A Guide To Resources For DACA Recipients In Los Angeles