Washington, D.C. — While the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been critical to protect certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation, a pathway to citizenship is the only way to extend permanent protections to DACA recipients, Dreamers, and the undocumented population more broadly in the United States. This is the main conclusion of a new column released today by the Center for American Progress with updated U.S. and state-level data on the demographics and economic impacts of DACA recipients.
Once again, numbers show DACA has been a positive force not just for recipients but for families and communities across the country. Through DACA, in which applicants receive a stay of deportation and work authorization, more than 825,000 people who arrived in the United States as young children were able to access more stability in their lives. DACA has enabled recipients to pursue higher education, become homeowners, and earn higher wages. And alongside that, with higher earnings comes more tax revenue and economic contributions, which are felt throughout the community and nationwide.
But DACA protections are not permanent and could be stripped away at any moment. Last July, a federal judge in Texas ruled DACA itself illegal and blocked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from enrolling new applicants into the program, though the court stayed the decision for active DACA recipients who, for now, are able to continue to renew their protections. In response, the Biden administration took steps to fortify and protect DACA from these continual attacks through the federal rule-making process.
The protections of DACA reverberate beyond just individuals who are part of the program—their impacts can be felt among their families and communities as well.
Key findings in DACA demographics include:
- On average, DACA recipients arrived in the United States in 1999 at the age of 7, and more than one-third of DACA recipients arrived in the United States before the age of 5.
- The average DACA recipient is now 26 years old.
- More than 1.3 million people live with a DACA recipient, including 300,000 U.S.-born children who have at least one parent with DACA.
- Twenty-three U.S. states are home to more than 10,000 people living in households with DACA recipients.
Key findings of DACA recipients in the workforce include:
- Over the past year and a half, more than three-quarters of DACA recipients in the workforce—343,000—were employed in jobs deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, keeping the country safe at great personal risk.
- This number includes 34,000 health care workers providing patient care and another 11,000 individuals working in health care settings keeping these facilities functioning.
- It includes 20,000 educators ensuring millions of children can continue learning in classrooms and 100,000 working in the food supply chain as food travels from farms to dinner tables.
- DACA recipient households pay $6.2 billion in federal taxes and $3.3 billion in state and local taxes each year.
- In local economies, after taxes, these households hold $25.3 billion in spending power. DACA recipients own 68,000 homes, making $760 million in mortgage payments and $2.5 billion in rental payments annually.
“DACA has been a force for good in families and communities across the United States, and we see that year after year in the data. But the program remains under attack,” says Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, associate director for research on the Immigration Policy team at CAP and co-author of this analysis. “It’s long past time for Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, for Dreamers, and for all undocumented Americans.”
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at firstname.lastname@example.org.