(But Only For People Who Don’t Have Calculators)
While everyone is talking about the impending termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and what will become of the 690,000 illegal aliens who currently enjoy protection under the program, there is another group of people whose status in the United States hangs in the balance. In the next few months a decision will be made about some 300,000 people from Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras who have been living in the United States (some for nearly 20 years) under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). These three nationality groups comprise about 90 percent of current TPS beneficiaries.
According to a hair-on-fire report by the Center for American Progress (CAP), revoking TPS for these foreign nationals, whose countries were struck by natural disasters (as long ago as 1998), would amount to shooting ourselves in the foot. Our economy would suffer a serious blow if we suddenly remembered that the T in TPS stands for temporary.
According to CAP the consequence of sending all these folks home would result in a loss of $164 billion in GDP over the next decade. For those who don’t have a calculator or never learned how to divide by ten, that works out to $16.4 billion a year, or less than 1/100th of 1 percent of our current $18.57 trillion GDP.
But the dire consequences of ending TPS don’t stop there. CAP warns that ending TPS would be a gut punch to the Social Security Trust Fund (OASDI), resulting in a loss of $6.9 billion in contributions over the next decade. Again, for the benefit of those without calculators or the ability to divide by ten, that’s $690 million per year. In FY 2015, the OASDI collected about $884 billion in payroll taxes and interest. Upon running the long division, the self-inflicted wound turns out to be a paper cut – again, less than 1/100th of 1 percent of OASDI’s revenue stream.
Let’s not even consider the fact that the infinitesimally small losses to the economy and Social Security that CAP projects would probably not even be incurred at all. The loss of a few hundred thousand TPS workers and taxpayers could, and almost certainly would, be compensated for by other workers who would fill the jobs they vacate.
What we need to remember is that TPS was never intended to be a windfall for our economy or the Social Security Trust Fund (and, as CAP’s own numbers show, it certainly hasn’t). It was created as a humanitarian program to allow people whose homelands were struck by an unexpected natural or manmade disaster the ability to remain here temporarily until the immediate effects of the triggering event had passed. We have fulfilled our humanitarian gesture to citizens of these countries – and then some – and it’s time to rescind their TPS status, even if it actually does cost us 1/100th of 1 percent of our GDP.