Center for American Progress

What We Know About DACA Recipients, by Metropolitan Area

What We Know About DACA Recipients, by Metropolitan Area

Locally, DACA recipients and their families play an important role in metro economies across the country.

Immigrants and supporters rally in support of DACA on September 5, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Getty/David McNew)
Immigrants and supporters rally in support of DACA on September 5, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Getty/David McNew)

Note: Newer data on DACA recipients can be found in “What We Know About DACA Recipients, by Metropolitan Area: Spring 2020 Edition” by Nicole Prchal Svajlenka.

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the lawfulness of the Trump administration’s rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In doing so, it will determine whether or not to reverse the decisions of three lower courts that allowed individuals to continue renewing their protections—and will likely decide DACA’s future in the first half of 2020.

As the Center for American Progress has detailed, the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients in the United States today are deeply rooted community members whose fiscal and economic contributions are felt broadly. Nearly 1.5 million individuals nationwide live in a household with a DACA recipient, including more than a quarter-million U.S.-born children of DACA recipients. Each year, DACA recipients pay $613.8 million in mortgage payments and $2.3 billion in rental payments, and their households pay $5.7 billion in federal taxes and $3.1 billion in state and local taxes.

Last week, CAP provided state-level data on DACA recipients. This column digs even deeper, looking at the role DACA recipients play in their local communities. Across the United States, 86 metropolitan areas are home to at least 1,000 DACA recipients.

Eighteen of the metro areas that are home to more than 1,000 DACA recipients are in California—the five with the largest DACA populations being the Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose metro areas. But the map above shows that sizable numbers of DACA recipients live in metropolitan areas throughout the country. DACA recipients are engaged in their communities in each of these metro areas; the remainder of this column highlights some of these familial ties and economic contributions by region.

For detailed demographic estimates and economic contributions for metropolitan areas with more than 1,000 DACA recipients, please see this downloadable spreadsheet.

For DACA recipients, the United States is home

Most DACA recipients have lived in the United States for the majority of their lives. They are part of the social fabric and have even started families of their own. Take, for example, metro areas in the Mountain West. In the Phoenix metro area, more than 54,000 Arizonans live with a DACA recipient; more than 22,000 Nevadans live with a DACA recipient in the Las Vegas metro area; nearly 21,000 Coloradans live with a DACA recipient in the Denver metro area; and in the Utah metro areas of Ogden, Provo, and Salt Lake City, nearly 15,000 Utahns live with a DACA recipient.

Moreover, DACA recipients are parents to hundreds of thousands of U.S.-born children across the country. For instance, in the Houston and Dallas metro areas, 14,000 children, or about 28,000 in the two areas combined, have a parent who is a DACA recipient. In the McAllen, San Antonio, and Austin metro areas, between 2,000 and 3,000 children per area have a parent who is a DACA recipient.

DACA-recipient households fuel national, state, and local economies through taxes and housing payments

Living and working in metro areas across the country, DACA recipients make important economic and fiscal contributions to their communities and the country. For example, DACA recipients and their households pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes each year in Midwestern metro areas. DACA-recipient households pay $49.4 million in federal taxes and $25.9 million in state and local taxes in Minneapolis; $36.2 million in federal taxes and $19 million in state and local taxes in Indianapolis; $29.4 million in federal taxes and $13.6 million in state and local taxes in Detroit; and $25.6 million in federal taxes and $14.5 million in state and local taxes in the Kansas City metro area.

DACA recipients also pay millions of dollars in mortgage payments and rental payments annually in metro areas nationwide, such as across the Southeast. DACA recipients make a combined $78.1 million in mortgage and rental payments in the Atlanta metro area. In metropolitan Washington, D.C., that figure is $43.3 million. And in the North Carolina metro areas of Charlotte and Raleigh, those figures are $19.5 million and $17.8 million, respectively.


If hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients were to lose their protections, it would jeopardize the significant economic and fiscal contributions these young people are making today to their communities and introduce tremendous fear and uncertainty into their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Just as multiple lower courts have done up to this point, the Supreme Court should maintain the status quo and preserve these important protections for DACA recipients, their families, and their communities.

Nicole Prchal Svajlenka is a senior policy analyst of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress.


The findings presented in this column are based on CAP analysis of 2017 1-year American Community Survey (ACS) microdata, accessed via the University of Minnesota’s IPUMS USA. For the purpose of measuring the overall number of DACA recipients, this column uses the latest data filed as evidence in Regents of the University of California, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al.; the data are on file with the author. The data show 660,880 active DACA recipients as of June 30, 2019.

Household tax contributions and spending power estimates are based on methodology developed by New American Economy and include all households that contain a DACA recipient. The tax rates applied to the microdata come from the Congressional Budget Office and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Spending power is measured as household income after federal, state, and local tax contributions; these data are based on household incomes, which are available in the ACS microdata.

The analysis calculates mortgage and rental payments for households in which a DACA recipient is the head of household or the spouse or unmarried partner of a head of household. Monthly payment information is aggregated from the ACS microdata.

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Nicole Prchal Svajlenka

Former Director of Research, Rights and Justice

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