Tracking the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

Back in May, Francisco Lopez-Flores, a UCLA alumni, pitched the project “DACAMENT ME” to potential investors. The goal of DACAMENT ME is to track the economic benefits of immigration reform following 2012’s Executive Order by President Obama to implement DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). While DACAMENT ME has been gaining attention from beneficiaries of DACA as well as investors, one potential investor chalked Lopez-Flores’ project to a mere hobby telling him and his team to not waste their time with it.

However, for many students and young adults like Francisco, DACAMENT ME is far from a mere hobby. It is very personal. The executive order allows those individuals to acquire important documentation to obtain jobs, bank accounts and licenses in certain states. Needless to say, it was and still is met with heavy opposition and that is where DACAMENT ME hopes to help. A new member of the DACAMENT ME team, Kayleen Ports, explained the goal and use case of the project very well when she said that while activists have already attempted to make the emotional argument for immigration reform, a data driven argument is also needed.

The idea for DACAMENT ME came to Lopez-Flores when he noticed that after the implementation of DACA, his own wages increased since he no longer had to be paid under the table and was able to apply for steadier, higher paying jobs. After surveying over 200 students who benefited from DACA, Lopez-Flores and fellow UCLA students Stephanie Ramirez and Rudy Morales traveled to the White House where they presented their findings and analysis of DACA’s economic impact to key policymakers. By expanding their initial project for their Chicana/o studies class, Lopez-Flores and his team are hoping to use DACAMENT ME as a way to survey and track DACA recipients over a long period of time to show the positive effects that the policy has on the U.S. economy. Part of their findings demonstrated how recipients of DACA saw an average wage increase of nearly 100%. The research also showed that if the trend continues, it would add nearly $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy.

Currently, DACAMENT ME is growing their team and working on a platform to turn DACAMENT ME into an official program at UCLA so that future students can continue participating. In May, apart from presenting the project to potential investors, the team won first place at the Latin@ Coder Summit hosted by Stanford University. The $1,000 price is being used to acquire the tools necessary to build the DACAMENT ME computer platform over the summer.

Bureaucracy Laws Impede Immigration and Silicon Vally Growth

Abogado Aly Immigration LawImmigrating to the United States of America is not made easy by all of the laws an bureaucracies put in place. Many people in the United States are against amnesty and other forms of citizenship that allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Their rational being that if the illegal immigrants want to stay in the United States, they should apply for a visa and wait until they are legally approved. This makes sense at first glance, but within the constructs of the law is an extremely untimely bureaucratic process that gives immigrants little hope of living legally in the United States anytime soon.

A recent study done by Forbes suggests that a computer programer from India has to wait 35 years, on average, if they want to live “legally” in the United States. Someone from Mexico with a high school diploma has to wait an average of 130 years! Complex rules and regulations are creating a difficult situation for both immigrants and the United States.

Studies show that immigrants make up most of the founders in Silicon Valley as they invent things twice as fast as native-born Americans. A lot of Sillicon Vally tech startups are feeling handcuffed by the US immigration policy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hire highly skilled immigrants. The tech startup industry is all about speed and efficiency. The US immigration process is too slow for the hiring processes of these growing startups, which limits their hiring abilities and thus limits competition.

Low skill and high skill is not a factor in the start-up rat race. Labor is a spectrum where all levels of labor are needed to keep up in the industry. These startup companies are hoping that the immigration laws become more relaxed so that they can hire who they need to hire.