DACA recipients are anything but free riders

Your Tuesday article about students and their families worrying about the end of the DACA program (“Wave of anxiety hits Clark County schools over DACA demise”) sadly allowed Citizens Outreach President Chuck Muth to perpetuate a dangerous myth. He stated that “the children of people who are in our country illegally are getting a free education, while I’m paying for my own. That angers me.” This is false — especially in Nevada — and Mr. Muth should know it.

Nevada has no income tax — something Mr. Muth no doubt celebrates. The money to support Nevada public schools come from property taxes, sales taxes and business taxes — the first two of which DACA families pay as they rent or own property and consume goods, just like any other family in Nevada. The 5 percent of DACA recipients who have started their own businesses also contribute on business taxes.

In fact, if Chuck Muth read reports from his fellow conservatives at the Heritage Foundation, he’d know that undocumented immigrants contribute more than $17.6 billion in state and local taxes, the primary drivers of local education funding. (Estimates range from $11.6 billion to $17.6 billion depending on the source, per a Politifact article from 2016.)

Characterizing DACA families as free riders in our education system is designed to strip empathy for these recipients who were brought here through no fault of their own as children. More than two-thirds of the American people support the DACA program, but Mr. Muth knows the only way to change that is to make you think of DACA families as takers instead of contributing members of our community. That’s wrong.

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