In a November 2016 editorial, Let's make deporting the Dreamers Trump's worst nightmare, the New Jersey Star-Ledger wrote:
Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign by disparaging a very small minority -- undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
The 750,000 young immigrants known as "Dreamers" are not among them. They came here as children and "are, for all practical purposes, American kids," as President Obama said recently.
They've grown up with everyone else's kids, played on the same sports teams, sat in the same classrooms, been their play-dates and prom dates. They have work permits, Social Security cards, bank accounts and jobs. A UCLA study calculates that Dreamers will add $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of their careers.
Yet Trump has said he would "immediately terminate" the executive action that Obama signed four years ago to give the Dreamers protection from deportation [a promise Trump kept 10 months later].
I left these comments, edited and expanded for clarity:
A UCLA study calculates that Dreamers will add $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of their careers.
So? This collectivist argument is no justification for the Dream Act. The justification is moral. It is found in the Declaration of Independence, and chiselled into the base of the Statue of Liberty.
First of all, taxes, by definition, is money first subtracted from the economy—i.e., taken by force from productive citizens who earned it—and transferred to government officials to spend as they, rather than the producers, think best. This is not to say that taxes, per se, are not necessary; or that all government expenditures are unsound (although most are). To have an economy—that is, millions of productive individuals trading for mutual advantage—you obviously need a government to protect individual rights by enforcing the rule of law. A government needs funding. (The ideal way to fund a government in a free society is through voluntary taxation. But that is a subject for another day.) But taxes, per se, do not add anything to the economy.
More importantly, I doubt very seriously that the Dreamers value America for how much they can contribute to the state, in the form of taxes. While all productive people provide benefits to “the economy”—i.e., others—I doubt they see themselves as cogs in some economic machine. Presumably, they want to remain here for the same reason all prior immigrants came here—the principle that made America great in the first place; to live in freedom and enjoy the rights to make their own lives the best they can be.
The Dreamers are by any practical measure Americans. As human beings, and as long as they are non-rights violating and law-abiding (notwithstanding their “undocumented” or “illegal” status), they have as much right to remain and build their lives in America as anybody—not because of their utility to “our economy,” but because of their inalienable rights to their own lives, liberty, and pursuits of personal happiness.