This is a guest post by Qudsiya Naqui, Senior Program Manager, and Lauren Worsek, Portfolio Manager at Equal Justice Works.
In 2012, President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an executive action that would offer temporary protection from deportation for the estimated 1.1 million undocumented young people who came to the United States as children. As other administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have done in the past, the Obama administration chose to exercise prosecutorial discretion to protect young people who, in all respects other than their immigration status, are Americans and have known no other home. Recently, the Trump administration announced that the program will be phased out in six months, which could result in DACA recipients facing deportation in the future.
The DACA program has had a broad-ranging impact for not only those 800,000 undocumented individuals who have emerged from the shadows under its protection, but for American society as a whole. According to a 2017 national survey conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Diego, United We Dream, the National Immigrant Law Center, and the Center for American Progress, DACA recipients have made significant contributions to the economy while furthering their own progress. For example, access to work authorization through DACA has allowed recipients to obtain employment commensurate with their education and training, increase their wages, transition to jobs with improved working conditions, and start their own businesses. Seventy two percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DACA recipients. DACA recipients—often referred to as Dreamers—are therefore able to bolster our economy by purchasing goods such as cars and homes.
In total, DACA recipients contribute roughly $1 billion in tax revenue each year.
But in light of the recent announcement, significant social and economic gains are imminently at risk. DACA is a temporary reprieve from deportation that is subject to renewal every two years. The administration has indicated that the Department of Homeland Security will no longer consider new applications for DACA, and will only accept renewal applications until October 5, 2017, for individuals whose DACA status expires between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. This means that nearly 800,000 young people who have become beneficiaries of DACA over the past five years will soon face the possibility of deportation, and lose the work authorization that has enabled them to secure significant economic gains for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Countless educational institutions, major industries, and small businesses that have come to rely on the efforts and contributions of DACA recipients will also be negatively affected. President Trump’s decision to rescind the DACA program has cast a veil of uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of young people, their families, and their allies about their future in this country. This uncertainty permeates our very social and economic fabric as a nation. Now, it is up to Congress to furnish a durable solution that will allow Dreamers to fulfill the promise and the spirit of DACA.
If you are a DACA recipient, visit The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) for information about the future of the program. ILRC has released a DACA Renewal Infographic in English and Spanish; a comprehensive community advisory titled, “What Do I Need to Know about the End of DACA?” available in English, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Arabic, and Korean; and a nine page ‘end of DACA’ FAQ.
The DACA program has had a broad-ranging impact for not only those 800,000 undocumented individuals who have emerged from the shadows under its protection, but for American society as a whole.