Commemorating Four Years of DACA

Posted on 06/17/2016 @ 12:45 AM

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

By: Alejandro Oms, LULAC National Policy and Legislation Intern

On June 15th, 2012, President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Two years later, President Obama expanded DACA and created its sister program, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), to continue supporting the United States’ immigration population in the midst of congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform. While the DACA expansion and DAPA currently await a ruling by the Supreme Court, the original DACA is presently unchallenged and continues to be a source of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

DACA changed the game for young immigrants by granting temporary, renewable work permits that last two years to undocumented immigrants who meet several qualifications that include education requirements and background checks. Upon implementation, DACA had the potential to cover over one million undocumented youth.

Last October, United We Dream released a report analyzing surveys of DACA recipients to gauge the basic life improvements that DACA has brought to its recipients. Three years after its passage and implementation, almost nine hundred thousand applications have been approved and almost four hundred thousand renewals have been granted. These temporary permits have allowed the majority of the recipients to get better jobs in part; due to increased access to driver’s licenses (90% of DACA recipients have obtained their driver’s license since the beginning of the program). Two-thirds of those who have obtained new jobs have seen an average wage increase by 45%. Not only does this increase in wages lead to increased tax revenue for state and federal government, but it also leads to increased wages that stimulate the economy. In total, if the Supreme Court upholds the DACA expansion and DAPA, state and local governments will collect over eight hundred million dollars in additional revenue each year.

DACA also provides long term economic and social benefits. The higher paying jobs that DACA permits allow immigrants to receive also help pay for higher education. On top of higher wages paying for higher education, several states also allow DACA recipients to pay in-state tuition at state universities. In addition to the new ability to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), DACA has drastically reduced the cost of a degree for undocumented immigrants. Approximately one third of DACA recipients have been able to attend college because of the program. College students can also get health insurance through their college which has assisted more than a quarter of DACA recipients in enrolling in healthcare coverage.

As it celebrates its fourth anniversary, DACA faces an onslaught of threats despite the benefits it has provided to the United States. The Supreme Court case against DAPA and the DACA expansion are based on the notion that President Obama has overstepped the authority granted to him in executive orders. Even if the Supreme Court upholds the DACA expansion, the next president can undo President Obama’s original executive order that created DACA with their own executive order. Presumptive democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has stated her support for the programs and expressed a desire to expand them. The presumptive republican nominee Donald Trump has declared he will undo President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Should Trump become president, he could immediately abolish DACA and threaten the jobs and educational opportunities hundreds of thousands of Latinos currently have.

Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, LULAC will continue fighting to ensure that families are not split up by deportation. Through its extensive advocacy networks, LULAC members and community partners will advocate on Capitol Hill and continue pressuring Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that puts families first.

Alejandro Oms is a Policy and Legislation Intern at the LULAC National Office in Washington, D.C. He is a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a degree in political science and certificate in international relations.

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