Center for American Progress

RELEASE: DACA Recipients Are Realizing Their Full Potential, But That Could Change Should DACA End and States Not Act, According to New CAP Brief
Press Release

RELEASE: DACA Recipients Are Realizing Their Full Potential, But That Could Change Should DACA End and States Not Act, According to New CAP Brief

Washington, D.C. — With various cases regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program still moving through federal courts, the future of the initiative remains uncertain. However, a new CAP brief paints a clear picture as to what DACA recipients stand to lose across the country if the program ends and how states can take action now to ameliorate some of those harms.

Over the past six years, DACA has positively impacted the lives of nearly 800,000 recipients who came to the United States as children, providing access to driver’s licenses in all states, and in-state tuition and state-funded aid in many and occupational licenses in some. However, depending on where DACA recipients live, access to these few provisions that have vastly improved recipients’ quality of life could be at stake if DACA were terminated.

Without DACA, nearly 377,000 recipients in 36 states would lose their ability to get a driver’s license. And while more than three-quarters of DACA recipients reside in states that offer in-state tuition regardless of immigration status, at least 20,600 recipients would be at risk of losing their access to higher education because of the prohibitive difference between in- and out-of-state tuition. Additionally, as many as 32,000 recipients would be at risk of losing their ability to enroll or continue their studies in all or certain public higher education institutions entirely, given the states they live in.

These common-sense measures to ensure that residents can obtain driver’s licenses, access affordable higher education, and obtain professional and occupational licenses regardless of immigration status vary considerably on a state-by-state basis; and with DACA’s future uncertain, now is the time for states to step up and expand access to things such as driver’s licenses, tuition equity, and professional licenses to ensure that DACA recipients can continue to contribute to their fullest potential even in the absence of the program.

“It falls on state policymakers to provide DACA recipients access to these basic rights until Congress passes a permanent solution that includes a pathway to citizenship,” said Silva Mathema, senior policy analyst for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Not only is it the morally right thing to do, but it would also be beneficial for both individuals and states. It would lead to improved road safety by allowing people to get licensed and increased revenue through vehicle taxes and other fees. It will ensure that the talent of people who want to pursue their education or get licensed in their chosen professional or occupational field stay in their state. When this government and Congress has failed them, only states can protect DACA recipients and provide some sense of normalcy in their daily lives should the program come to an end”

Click here to read: “What DACA Recipients Stand to Lose—and What States Can Do About It” by Silva Mathema.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Rafael J. Medina at or 202.748.5313.