As DACA Ruling Approaches, 2022 Survey of DACA Recipients Emphasizes DACAs Importance, Highlights End Would Hurt the American Economy and Harm Local Communities

April 27, 2023

Juan Gastelum, NILC, [email protected], 213-375-3149
José Alonso Muñoz, United We Dream, [email protected]
Madia Coleman, the Center for American Progress, [email protected]

As DACA Ruling Approaches, 2022 Survey of DACA Recipients Emphasizes DACAs Importance, Highlights End Would Hurt the American Economy and Harm Local Communities

WASHINGTON — A new survey published today by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; the National Immigration Law Center; and the Center for American Progress illustrates that Dreamers continue to contribute to communities across the United States and their work strengthens the local and national economy.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy continues to be challenged in the courts, despite its success and the vital contributions its recipients have made to the United States. Last October, in a lawsuit filed by Texas state officials, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a Texas federal district judge’s lamentable ruling that DACA is unlawful but allowed DACA to remain in place for current recipients. Another ruling is expected from the Texas court in the coming months.

An end to DACA would mean that nearly 600,000 current DACA recipients could lost protection from deportation and be forcibly separated from their communities and loved ones DACA’s ending would also have negative implications for the U.S. economy and workforce.

The survey findings highlight that there are chilling consequences to the end of DACA:

  • 63.6 percent of DACA recipients would be less likely to continue their education, and 65.3 percent would be less likely to pursue new educational opportunities.
  • 46.6 percent of DACA recipients would be less likely to look for a new job, 48.5 percent would be less likely to report wage theft or other abuses by their employer, and 66.6 percent would be less likely to pursue an occupational license.
  • 40.2 percent of DACA recipients would be less likely to participate in public events where police may be present if they no longer had DACA.
  • 37.4 percent of DACA recipients would be less likely to report a crime they witnessed, and 34.8 percent would be less likely to report a crime of which they themselves were victim.
  • 43.0 percent of DACA recipients would be less likely to use public services that require providing personal contact information, such as going to city hall, and 54.6 percent would be less likely to conduct business that required personal contact information, such as opening a bank account or getting a loan for which they are qualified.

However, despite navigating an increasingly precarious future DACA recipients continue to persist and make strides in the United States:

  • 17.7 percent of respondents purchased their first home after receiving DACA. Among respondents 25 years and older, this figure increases to 22.4 percent.
  • Overall, 26.1 percent of respondents are currently in school, a large majority—69.0 percent—of whom are pursuing a bachelor’s or advanced degree.
  • The 2022 data show that over eight out of every ten respondents (83.1 percent) are currently employed.
  • Among respondents ages 25 and older, the employment rate jumps to 90.7 percent.

Results from the survey show that DACA recipients continue to be indispensable members of American society whose family lives and workplaces will be disrupted if DACA ends. More than that, the survey paints a picture of DACA recipients’ full lives, with family, friends, coworkers, and classmates whose lives will all be impacted upended if DACA were to end.

The new data from the survey reveals that there are concerning effects on DACA recipients’ lives should DACA end, that would create additional barriers to their full engagement in civic society, the economy, and educational systems.

Nothing short of congressional action to provide access to a path to citizenship will alleviate the daily concerns many DACA recipients have about their and their families’ futures in the United States.

“This year, new data in this survey illustrates that DACA recipients persevere, building full lives in the United States despite fear for their livelihood and stability in the face of relentless attacks against their status as Americans,” said Tom K. Wong, associate professor of political science and founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego, and a senior fellow at CAP. “DACA recipients have the right to not live in a state of fear, their lives defined by legal unpredictability. We must work towards a permanent status and stability for DACA recipients and their families.”

“In the decade since we won DACA, the work permit and protections from deportation the program allows have been life changing for DACA recipients and our nation as a whole,” said Karen Ruiz Fierro, Federal Advocacy & Policy Manager at United We Dream. “Yet, for almost as long as DACA has been around, there have been efforts to try to end it, a move that would upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants like me. Our latest DACA survey again shows the negative impact this would have not just on DACA recipients, and DACA eligible youth, but on millions of Americans who live with, work with, or rely on, a DACA recipient. The results of our latest survey also show that DACA recipients are concerned with what the possible end of DACA could have negative implications on their education and employment opportunities. While a lawsuit by anti-immigrant state officials continues, it’s imperative that Congress pass a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented people living in the U.S.”

“For more than 10 years, DACA has had a transformative impact on my life, allowing me to go to school, work, and build a life with my family and loved ones in the U.S.,” said Diana Pliego, policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center. “And for more than 10 years, DACA’s impermanence has kept me and hundreds of thousands of other immigrant youth like me on edge that the homes we’ve created here could be upended because of a politicized court ruling or politicians playing a game with our futures. DACA recipients are vital to this country and it is past time for Congress to step up and pass a permanent solution.”

“DACA recipients are a crucial part of the fabric of American life—not just their families but the country at large, and year after year the survey illustrates that point,” said Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, former director of research for the Rights and Justice department at CAP. It’s well past time for Congress to recognize that and pass a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and all undocumented Americans.”

Read the column:2022 Survey of DACA Recipients Underscores the Importance of a Pathway to Citizenship by Tom K. Wong, Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Diana Pliego, Karen Fierro Ruiz, Debu Gandhi, Trinh Q. Truong, Nicole Prchal Svajlenka.

To view the full survey results, visit this link.