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Mass deportation would cost U.S. economy billions, experts say

Barrington Salmon | 3/22/2017, 10:21 p.m.

Immigration and labor experts say that mass deportation would cost the federal government nearly $900 billion in lost revenue over 10 years and would immediately reduce the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.4 percent.

That GDP shortfall would grow by 2.6 percent, and reduce the cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion. Overall, the U.S. economy would lose $434.4 billion in GDP every year in losses in the construction, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality industries, if unauthorized immigrants were forced to leave the country.

“This would cripple the economy,” said Rita Medina, the immigrant campaign manager for the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CPAF). Medina said that a state law in Alabama forced agricultural workers to leave their jobs, which had a negative effect on crop yields and the economy. “It takes a toll on communities. People are moving, because of the fear of [Immigration Customs Enforcement] and taking their children out of school. Small businesses and the housing market will be deeply affected.”

Medina continued: “It’s pretty scary. It’s also important to make sure that we’re not causing panic.”

Medina said that the updated 287(g) program in President Trump’s memo on undocumented immigration, which deputizes state and local law enforcement officers to act as ICE agents, is basically like the original program on steroids.

“With some of the policies, you can’t say are they’re unconstitutional, because they’ve been in place for a while,” Medina explained. “I’m sure there are those in legal circles who are looking at options and ways to counter administration policy.”

According to the National Restaurant Association and Restaurants Opportunities Centers United, estimated 1 in 4 restaurant workers is foreign-born. Immigrants comprise a significant majority of farm workers and many of them are undocumented.

During protests over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, hundreds of immigrants and their families marched to the White House, instead of going to work, shutting down more than 100 area restaurants in the Washington, D.C. metro area, to show what a day without immigrants in the workforce would look like. Demonstrations took place in cities around the country. In the district, protestors sought assurances from city officials that they would refuse requests from ICE to arrest and hold undocumented immigrants, demanded a halt to unchecked police violence committed against immigrants and asked for a fund to pay for a sanctuary program in the district.

For Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets, standing in solidarity with the protesters was a no-brainer. He closed his six locations, gave his employees a paid day off and also gave them the option of coming into the restaurants to partake in other activities on that day.

“As an immigrant myself, I have to speak up,” he said. “Staying on the sidelines in these times is no longer an option. We need true immigration reform that considers the human aspect of immigration— not just building walls, hiring agents, and expanding prisons.”

Shallal, a first-generation Iraqi-American who is married to an Iranian immigrant, said that his restaurants serve about 4,000 to 5,000 people every day.