NEW YORK — Immigrants and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) have quite an impact on Missouri's economy, which is part of today's iMarch for Immigration, a 50-state campaign calling for Congress to come up with a solution over what is dubbed the "DREAM Act" by year's end.

"There’s a growing chorus with a simple message for Congress – step up and fix our broken immigration system, starting with a fix for Dreamers," John Feinblatt, president of New American Economy (NAE) said in a statement emailed to the St. Louis Record. "Today, in DC and across the country, you’ll hear from leaders of every political stripe who agree it’s not only the right thing, but also the economically smart thing for America to do."

As NAE's iMarch for Immigration is underway, lawmakers in Washington continue negotiations for a solution over the 1.3 million recipients of DACA. The measure is an Obama-era policy that permits those who came into the U.S. illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year deferred action from deportation and eligibility to work legally in the U.S.

Immigrants who fall under the Dream Act contributed billions of dollars to the nation's economy, according to NAE's embargoed press release issued just prior to the iMarch. 

"These contributions become even more significant when you look at how this population is affecting local economies," the press release said.

Part of its campaign today was the NAE's release of updated data about immigrants' contributions to Missouri's economy. Immigrants in Missouri paid $2.4 billion in taxes in 2014 and wielded $6.4 billion in spending power over the same year, according to the NAE's data. Immigrants in Missouri number 254,189, with more than 58,916 people working in immigrant-owned firms throughout the state, the NAE said.

Since DACA was implemented, more than 3,500 young people in Missouri have emerged from the shadows to pass background checks, and to legally live and work in the U.S., according to a fact sheet issued by the egalitarian labor rights group Interfaith Worker Justice. Ending DACA would cost the state more than $209 million in annual GDP losses, would remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the U.S. economy and would result in the loss of $460.3 billion in GDP nationwide over the next 10 years, according to the Interfaith Worker Justice fact sheet.

As the NAE's iMarch for Immigration got underway, President Donald Trump's administration continued to seek a DACA deal with Congress by year's end.

The NAE also is expected to release an interactive map of immigration stories from all 435 congressional districts and to coordinate events around the country, including statements issued in Missouri supporting DACA, according to the NAE press release.

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