September 18, 2017
CENTRAL MASS IN BRIEF

Worcester officials push for immigrant protections

PHOTO/courtesy
Quinsigamond Community College joined the other state community colleges in calling for immigrant protections.

State and local organizations and institutions are calling for protections to thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were previously safe from deportation thanks to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

According to business leaders and advocacy groups, repealing the law, which would take effect in March, would hurt the local economy.

If the roughly 8,000 DACA recipients in Massachusetts were forced to leave the country, the state economy would lose at least $24 million in tax revenue, said David Jordan, president of the Seven Hills Foundation.

David Jordan, president of the Seven Hills Foundation

"A pretty dramatic effect," he said.

DACA is a program founded by former President Barack Obama granting protection from deportation and work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country before 2007 as minors under the age of 16.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month the program would be rescinded and officially ended in six months, allowing Congress to enact a law to protect the approximately 800,000 DACA recipients in the country.

In addition to the Seven Hills Foundation, all of the state's community colleges, including Quinsigamond Community College and Mount Wachusett Community College, have called for measures to protect those with DACA status.

Two years ago, Seven Hills published a study finding foreign-born residents make up 37 percent of Worcester's small business owners, double the statewide rate.

The annual $947 million earned by these workers represents 26 percent of the total citywide earnings, the study said.

The foundation itself employs immigrants from 43 different countries and many of them are worried about what will happen to family and friends if DACA is indeed ended.

"It has a ripple effect that is significant," Jordan said.

According to the New American Economy, a New York City think tank seeking immigration reform, there are 142,404 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts with spending power of $2.7 billion.

In addition to paying more than $380 million in taxes per year, 13,220 of them are entrepreneurs, according to the group.

"Removing 8,000 DACA recipients would have a debilitating effect on the economy here in Central Mass. and certainly the state," Jordan said.

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