Since its inception in June 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided temporary relief from deportation as well as work authorization to undocumented young people across the United States.
What are some demographic qualities of DACA recipients?
As of June 2020, there were approximately 645,610 DACA recipients. The majority of these DACA recipients were female (53%) and were single/never married (74%). The average age of DACA recipients was 26.5 years, with the majority (67%) being age 30 or younger (see charts below).
Where do DACA recipients currently live and in what countries were they born?
Over half (58.6%) of DACA recipients reside in just 5 states: California (28.5%), Texas (16.5%), Illinois (5.4%), New York (4.4.%), and Florida (3.8%). See chart below at left.
The majority of DACA recipients were born in Mexico (80.5%), followed by El Salvador (3.8%), Guatemala (2.6%) and Honduras (2.4%). See chart below at right.
Results from the 2020 National DACA Study
The following data are results from a national study conducted for the fifth consecutive year by Tom K. Wong, an associate professor of political science and founding director of the United States Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at UC San Diego.
The national study consisted of a questionnaire that was administered to an online panel of DACA recipients recruited by partner organizations. Several steps were taken to account for known issues that can result from such online panels, including preventing recipients from submitting multiple responses by not offering incentives for survey participation and by using an online survey platform that allows an IP address to submit only one response. To prevent responses from people who were not actually undocumented, multiple questions were asked about each respondent’s immigration and DACA application history at different parts of the questionnaire. When repeated, the questions were posed using different wording. If there was consistency with those responses, the respondent was kept in the study. If not, the respondent was excluded. The full results can be found here.
The Center for American Progress' (CFAP) profile of DACA recipients involved in the coronavirus response reported over 200,000 recipients working on the frontlines in some capacity. Over half (58%) of recipients reported continuing to work during the pandemic due to being an essential worker. Nonetheless, DACA recipients have suffered economic losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including 45% who reported losing their job due to the pandemic and 32% who reported difficulty paying rent due to the pandemic.
Almost a quarter (24%) of DACA recipients reported being denied a stimulus check because their spouse or parents filed taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (see chart below).
Inclusion and Belonging
No longer fearing deportation once their application is approved, DACA recipients are often more inclined to become engaged in their community - 63% reported feeling more like they belonged in the United States and the same percentage (63%) reported no longer being afraid due to their immigration status. After DACA application approval:
• 46.1% became more politically active
• 52.0% became more involved in their community
• 82.0% got a driver’s license for the first time
Most recipients also establish strong citizenship; 77% reported having an immediate family member (a parent, sibling, spouse, or child) who is a U.S. citizen. Of the DACA recipients who were married, 61.0% had a spouse of U.S. citizenship and of those recipients with children, almost all (99.7%) were U.S. citizens.
Civic engagement also increases with DACA approval, with almost half (46.1%) of recipients reporting becoming more politically active once their DACA application was approved. Almost all (94%) of the recipients surveyed reported that they planned on encouraging family and friends to vote in the November 2020 general election (see chart below at right), and 34% reported contacting or attempting to contact a member of the Senate or House of Representatives regarding civic issues (see bottom chart ).
About 90% of recipients reported support or strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement (see chart below at left).
Risks of Deportation
Recent attempts to end the DACA program pose imminent risks of deportation to the hundreds of thousands DACA recipients. The majority, 71%, reported no longer having an immediate family member (a parent, sibling, spouse, or child) still living in their country of birth (see chart below at right). Recipients reported that if deported to their country of birth (see chart below at left):
• 81.64% would be concerned about the physical safety of themselves and their family
• 78.8% would be concerned about the quality of healthcare for themselves and their family
• 72.9% would be concerned about the quality of education for themselves and their family
• 57.6% would be concerned about food insecurity for themselves and their family
Concerns About Immigration Enforcement
Threats to the DACA program have heightened concerns about immigration enforcement among DACA recipients - 34% reported having daily concerns about being detained in an immigration detention facility, while about 77% of DACA recipients reported having daily concerns about being separated from their children because of deportation.
DACA recipients reported that after their application was approved, economic integration became more attainable. Prior to DACA, only 45.3% of recipients were employed compared to 88.5% who reported being employed after their DACA application was approved. Similarly, average hourly wage increased from $11.77/hour to $24.88/hour after DACA approval, while average annual earnings increased from $22,594/year to $47,979/year. Most recipients reported the ability to earn more money once their application was approved, specifically allowing for (see chart below):
• 86.4% reported having the ability to pay for tuition (among those recipients enrolled in school)
• 83.7% reported becoming more financially independent
• 83.5% reported having the ability to help their family financially
• 70.1% reported obtaining their first credit card
• 65.1% reported buying their first car
• 63.2% reported getting a job with better pay
• 59.0% reported getting a job with health insurance or other benefits
• 54.5% reported getting a job that better fits their long-term career goals
Most DACA recipients reported more opportunities for educational attainment after the approval of their DACA application. Two-thirds of DACA recipients (66.6%) reported pursuing educational opportunities that previously were not available to them. Of the 30% of recipients who reported current enrollment in school, approximately 76% were pursuing a Bachelor's degree or higher. About 43% reported having already obtained a Bachelor's degree or higher at the time of the survey.
Impact of DHS Memo
In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) decision to end DACA did not properly address all relevant factors associated with the decision to end the program. Therefore, the court remanded the issue back to DHS, which can reattempt to end the program by providing a more thorough explanation for its decision.
In response, on July 28th, 2020, DHS released a memo in which major changes were made to the DACA program, including reducing the period of protection from deportation and work authorization per DACA renewal from 2 years of protection down to only 1 year of protection.