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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of DACA on Tuesday. His announcement listed a number of reasons for the decision — for example, that the president’s authority to set immigration policy is very limited outside the realm of Muslim bans — but let us focus here on his economic argument.
Sessions claimed that DACA “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” This is a bizarre claim that relies on the idea that there is a fixed number of predetermined jobs in the country. But there is no fixed number of predetermined jobs in the country. One can easily verify this using widely available numbers. For example, the number of full-time employed people today exceeds the same number in 1990 by about 20 million.
There are two reasons I can think of for Sessions to make his wrong-headed assertion. One is that he shares the zero-sum economic ideology that permeates the Trump administration, perhaps most visibly on the trade policy front. The other one is that Sessions may have found it important to portray DACA recipients as actively harming other people to justify the distress the administration’s decision is causing them, and that there is no actually existing evidence he could rely on.
Neither reason strikes me as helpful, and I hope that Sessions will refrain from repeating this particular falsehood.