Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Nearly 203,000 DACA Recipients Are Stepping Up at a Time When Americans Need Them Most
Press Release

RELEASE: Nearly 203,000 DACA Recipients Are Stepping Up at a Time When Americans Need Them Most

Press Contacts

  • Claudia Montecinos

Washington, D.C. — A new column by the Center for American Progress calls attention to the 202,500 DACA recipients who are on the front line of the response to fight the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States. The column highlights that nearly one-third of all current DACA recipients are working in three linked occupations and industry groups—health care, education, and food services—that make them “essential critical infrastructure workers,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines.

Many DACA recipients, for example, are doctors and medical students who are risking themselves to help others; teachers who are continuing to educate children remotely; and workers who are ensuring that food is being produced, packed, cooked, shipped, and replenished in supermarket shelves.

Key findings of the column include:

  • An estimated 29,000 health care workers are DACA recipients, playing a critical role as nurses, lab technicians, or home health aides. The majority of these health care workers are in the states with the largest number of DACA beneficiaries. For example:
    • 8,600 in California
    • 4,300 in Texas
    • 1,700 in New York
    • 1,400 in Illinois
    • 1,100 in Florida
    • 1,000 in Arizona
    • 1,000 in Washington
  • Another 12,700 DACA recipients work in the health care industry in essential roles such as custodians, food preparers, and management or administrators. From those, 4,100 DACA recipients are working in hospitals and 1,700 in residential facilities such as nursing homes.
  • 14,900 DACA recipients are among the hundreds of thousands of teachers who have pivoted from the physical to the digital classroom across the country. Among those teachers, 4,300 are in California, 2,800 are in Texas, and 1,000 are in Illinois.
  • 142,100 DACA recipients work in food-related occupations or industries in the United States.
    • On the production end, 12,800 DACA recipients work in the farming and agriculture industry as laborers, while 11,600 DACA recipients work in the food manufacturing industry processing these agricultural products.
    • Those keeping the grocery stores open include 14,900 DACA recipient essential food-related workers in roles such as cashiers (6,000); stockers and laborers (2,900); and supervisors (1,200).
    • 82,200 DACA workers are employed in restaurants or food service establishments.

“Once again, the numbers confirm what we know to be true about the importance of DACA recipients in our society. They are providing key services in the medical and educational fields as well as the food industry, supporting the country from its core. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, they are more essential than ever,” says Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, associate director for research on the Immigration Policy team at CAP and author of the column. “Given the ongoing economic and public health crises, now more than ever, the nation is relying on DACA recipients. With a potential U.S. Supreme Court decision over the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind DACA on hold, it is critical that the court support DACA and keep these individuals in the workforce.”

Related sources:

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, please visit our coronavirus resource page.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Claudia Montecinos at cmontecinos@americanprogress.org.