One-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program occurred on August 15, 2013. DACA provides an opportunity for a segment of the undocumented immigrant population to remain in the country without fear of deportation, allows them to apply for work permits, and increases their opportunities for economic and social incorporation. The research conducted by Roberto G. Gonzales, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Veronica Terriquez, University of Southern California of the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP), showed the following preliminary findings on the impact that DACA has had on some of the young people who have received it:
- DACA contributes to the economic and social incorporation of young adult immigrants. Since receiving DACA, young adult immigrants have become more integrated into the nation’s economic institutions. Approximately 61% of DACA recipients surveyed have obtained a new job since receiving DACA. Meanwhile, over half have opened their first bank account, and 38% have obtained their first credit card. Additionally, 61% have obtained a driver’s license, which has likely widened educational, employment, and other options for these young adult immigrants.
- DACA recipients would likely become U.S. citizens if given the opportunity. Ninety-four percent of survey respondents indicated that they would apply for citizenship if ever eligible. This finding suggests that DACA recipients seek to be further integrated into U.S. society.
- Although DACA recipients are experiencing its benefits, they continue to encounter hardships related to the blocked pathway to legalization of their families and communities. Over the last several years, enforcement efforts have heightened levels of anxiety in immigrant communities and torn apart families. Survey results indicate that 49% of respondents worry “all of the time” or “most of the time” that friends and family members will be deported.
- Nearly 2/3 of DACA recipients personally know someone who has been deported. Approximately 14% of DACA recipients in this study have experienced the deportation of a parent or sibling. These young adults are likely to have suffered significant stress and family hardships as a result of the forced departure of a close family member. Notably, nearly another third (31%) of respondents report that other family members have been deported. Almost half report that they know a neighbor, coworker, friend, or other acquaintance who has been deported.
- Comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to legalization could benefit close family members of most DACA recipients. Approximately 86% of DACA recipients reported that their mother could potentially benefit from comprehensive immigration reform. Meanwhile, 74% said their fathers could benefit, and 62% said their siblings could benefit from such a change in federal immigration policy.