Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 5th Annual DACA Survey Shows What’s at Stake in the Supreme Court This November
Press Release

RELEASE: 5th Annual DACA Survey Shows What’s at Stake in the Supreme Court This November

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress; the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; and the National Immigration Law Center released the results of their 5th annual survey of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The survey reveals the profound impact that the program has had on the lives of recipients and their families. This year’s survey also provides, for the first time, critical data about the deep fears of return and potential harms that recipients could face if they were to lose DACA and be deported:

  • 93 percent of recipients reported concerns about their or their families’ physical safety, health care, education, food security, or risk of homelessness in their countries of birth.
  • 80 percent reported, “In my country of birth, I would be concerned about the physical safety of myself and my family.
  • 41 percent reported, “In my country of birth, I would be concerned about homelessness for myself and my family.”
  • 69 percent reported not having any immediate family members who live in their countries of birth.

The results also include dozens of data points on recipients’ earnings, business ownership and hiring, education, political involvement, and economic contributions. Among the key findings:

  • 96 percent of respondents are currently employed or enrolled in school.
  • 79 percent of respondents reported that their increased earnings due to receiving DACA have helped them become financially independent.
  • 58 percent of respondents said DACA allowed them to move to a job with better pay.
  • 60 percent of respondents bought their first car after DACA, while 14 percent purchased their first home.
  • 6 percent of respondents started their own businesses; among those businesses with full-time employees, on average, they employ 4 1/2 individuals other than themselves.
  • 40 percent of respondents are currently in school, a large majority—83 percent—of whom are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 46 percent of respondents reported already having a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 57 percent of respondents reported that they have become more involved in their communities after receiving DACA.

“As the Supreme Court decision looms, we now have data on just how devastating it would be—from concerns about physical safety to homelessness—if DACA recipients were forced to leave the United States,” 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 the Center for American Progress. “These data make vivid that should DACA recipients lose their status, they would not just lose what they have gained over the past several years, but that their deportability could also put lives and livelihoods at risk.”

Philip E. Wolgin, managing director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, added:

This year’s survey underscores what’s at stake this November when the Supreme Court considers the legality of the Trump administration’s termination of DACA. Receiving DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of people who arrived in the United States as children to care for their families, support their communities, and contribute to the economy. The results also show how essential DACA is to recipients’ basic security. Without DACA, many recipients fear what would happen if they were deported to a country they do not know and in which they have no immediate family.

Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director of United We Dream, added:

Since killing DACA two years ago, the Trump administration has tried to use DACA recipients as leverage to funnel more money into the deportation force. Despite Trump’s attacks, DACA renewals remain, and DACA has made an immense impact on the lives of immigrant youth and their families. But as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the case, this year’s survey results show that fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tearing their family apart is particularly high among DACA recipients who are parents—as is the fear of deportation or detention in one of Trump’s many concentration camps.

Holly Straut-Eppsteiner, research program manager at the National Immigration Law Center, added:

These findings confirm what we have long known: DACA allows immigrants who came here as children, and for whom the United States is their home, to thrive. They also make very clear what we have on the line as DACA heads to the Supreme Court: the well-being of DACA recipients and their families and their ability to contribute to their communities.

The survey was conducted from August 14 to September 6, 2019, by Wong. It includes 1,105 DACA recipients in 40 states as well as the District of Columbia. 2019 marks the fifth consecutive year that the authors have surveyed DACA recipients.

Read “DACA Recipients’ Livelihoods, Families, and Sense of Security Are at Stake This November” by  Tom K. Wong, Sanaa Abrar, Claudia Flores, Tom Jawetz, Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Greisa Martinez Rosas, Holly Straut-Eppsteiner, and Philip E. Wolgin

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For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at or 202-495-3682.